WS helps LAPD use film trailers as recruitment tool

LOS ANGELES: Weber Shandwick created an innovative branding campaign for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) involving film-quality "vignettes" that launched in area movie theaters the day after Christmas.

LOS ANGELES: Weber Shandwick created an innovative branding campaign for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) involving film-quality "vignettes" that launched in area movie theaters the day after Christmas.

The campaign, costing about a million dollars, meant to help draw new employees to the force, centers on those "vignettes" that feature real police officers in action-packed stories designed to bring the experience of being a police officer to life. The trailers will play in movie theaters and on the web.

The campaign is targeted both at a young demographic, as well as multicultural audiences, both key targets for LAPD recruitment. WS produced the stories, which run over two minutes. Although the campaign already had an official premiere earlier in the year, the trailers were scheduled to hit the big screen in Metropolitan Theaters the day after Christmas, and more than 100 Mann Theaters and Pacific Theatres screens in February 2005.

However, the campaign was not without flaws. Captain Richard Webb, commanding officer for the LAPD's recruitment and employment division, said that some theaters balked at the length of the vignettes, declining to donate such a large amount of pre-feature time.

"The problem with the campaign was that nobody has ever done this before. We took a risk," said Webb.

He added that making the trailers more than two minutes "was probably not the best thing to do. Now we're looking at going back and editing those things down to one minute, and if we do that we're going to get those into more theaters."

Although the account was won in spring of 2004, this is the agency's first major initiative, according to WS EVP Armando Azarloza. A good deal of time was spent on research to focus in on the target audience.

Azarloza said that research showed that compensation was not the leading factor that leads people to a police career. Instead, Azarloza said, "what drives someone to become a police officer is the adrenaline, the need or desire not have a desk job."

Thus the films were designed to highlight the "adventure" of police work.

Webb added that the research also found that "people in that demographic get their information from the Internet, so we wanted to... drive people to our joinlapd.com website."

A redesign of that website was also a key part of the program. It now features such youth-targeted items as downloadable music and in-language materials. Also, WS created a partnership with Monster.com that allows job applicants to view the video on the web.

Azarloza added that more programs with a similar feel are in the works for next year, including the possibility of a branded reality TV show.

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