Campaigns: Dropping in on Army b-day bash

Client: United States Army Recruiting Command (Ft. Knox, KY)

Client: United States Army Recruiting Command (Ft. Knox, KY)

Client: United States Army Recruiting Command (Ft. Knox, KY)

PR Team: Cohn & Wolfe (New York)

Campaign: US Army’s 225th Anniversary

Time Frame: March to November 2000

Budget: Around dollars 1 million (for 1,500 events throughout the


Public Affairs.

Fewer and fewer people have personal relationships with someone in the

military, which has negative consequences for military recruiting.

This year, the Army’s 225th anniversary, the US Army Recruiting Command

(USARC) and its agency, Cohn & Wolfe, are planning a series of year-long

events, creating opportunities for civilians to meet soldiers.

For June 14, the Army’s actual birthday (the day in 1775 when it was

created by Congress), client and agency wanted to devise a

high-visibility national celebration that would allow for even more such



Early on, Tom Tiernan, manager of USARC’s promotional programs, pegged

baseball as a key element in the strategy. ’We needed places that drew

crowds in the summer that were consistent nationwide,’ he says. Beyond

the right logistics, baseball and the Army share a sense of national

pride and national identity that made them a good match, Tiernan


The ’Army Day’ celebrations at baseball stadiums nationwide would offer

pre-game events that demonstrated some aspect of Army skill or


(Local recruiting stations in cities without stadiums or a game would

offer events such as public cake-cuttings with an Army band on hand.)

The public could meet soldiers and receive giveaways at stands or booths

(some with military equipment) outside the stadium or near the


To make the birthday happenings truly special, USARC earmarked the

Army’s championship parachute team, the Golden Knights, for pre-game

jumps into stadiums. ’They’re total professionals who put on a great

show and they’re great soldiers - a Knight can land in an open canoe on

water,’ says Cohn & Wolfe’s Andrew Sexton, who handled national

publicity for the birthday and pitched in for the baseball



’In March we started calling every baseball team in the US - major

league, minor league and college,’ says Sexton. The San Diego Padres on

the West Coast and the New York Yankees on the East Coast both had games

that day, and both agreed to host parachute jumps. Local recruiting

stations took the lead on organizing activities in their local stadiums,

from soldiers singing the national anthem to a drill team or color guard


’The baseball teams and their managers were incredible,’ says


Besides arranging and coordinating media activities in New York, Sexton

volunteered to clear the parachute jump at Yankee Stadium with the

Federal Aviation Administration. ’What paperwork - it’s worse than doing

taxes,’ he says.

To drive traffic to local events, Cohn & Wolfe began pitching the

morning shows in mid-May, promising unique segments in studio and on



’We owned the morning,’ says Tiernan of the June 14 coverage.

Good Morning America aired a cake-cutting ceremony in New York. The cake

- a tank-size replica of a Humvee - was stationed at the Times Square

recruiting center and generated about 25 minutes of coverage, Sexton


Anne Curry of Today jumped with the Golden Knights while Lt. Colonel

Bill Callahan did an in-studio interview with Matt Lauer.

On CBS, the Army’s premiere drill team performed while Maj. General Evan

Gaddis was interviewed about the state of Army recruiting.

Pre-game events occurred at 14 of 15 major league games and 19 minor

league games. If giveaways at the events are any indication, the

campaign was a huge success. Almost half a million lanyards, thousands

of water bottles (with Army logo and toll-free recruiting number) and

’countless’ flags were distributed in one day, Tiernan says. ’We had

1,000 cake-cutting ceremonies, and at least 134 TV stations covered

local events. We don’t have a final count yet.’

In New York, the four Knights landed in 26-second intervals bearing the

flags of the US, New York State, POW-MIAs and (earning the biggest

cheer) the championship flag of the Yankees. Four-star general Jack

Keene threw out the first pitch.


Events, jumps and tours will continue in major and minor league baseball

stadiums, auto shows and elsewhere through to Veterans’ Day in November,

followed by preparations to send Army teams in marksmanship to the

Sydney Olympics.

Virginia Randall.

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