Case study: Celebrities and social media used by MoD to promote Armed Forces Day

Tactics used by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to promote Armed Forces Day last month included social media messaging and an audio clip narrated by actor Ray Winstone, which was made available to broadcasters.

Case study: Celebrities and social media used by MoD to promote Armed Forces Day
The comms offensive in support of the annual celebration of Britain’s service personnel and veterans resulted in record levels of participation; including 377 events and parades across the country on Saturday 24 June – up from 312 in 2016.

Planning for a special national event in Liverpool began almost a year ago, with the MoD’s comms team holding initial meetings with Liverpool Council last August. 

Celebrity endorsement via broadcast channels

The Government Communication Service worked with the MoD to enlist Ray Winstone to do the voiceover for an audio clip – encouraging people to visit a dedicated website – and it was made available for broadcasters to use as a radio ‘filler’, which is when they have a free slot on air.
Website traffic rose during the campaign to half a million visits, a five-fold increase from the previous weeks.

High-profile endorsements from sporting bodies such as the Football Association and the Welsh, Scottish and English rugby unions helped drive digital engagement on social media channels.

Social success

In the run-up to the awareness day, hashtags #ArmedForcesDay and #SaluteOurForces were promoted on social media, and Snapchat geo-filters were used for the first time.

On Facebook alone there were more than 560,000 engagements on less than 40 Facebook posts, which reached 2.6 million people.

A promotional video was also shown on big screens in Network Rail stations across the country, on televisions on National Express coaches, as well as in the lobbies of corporate partners such as Aviva. The video was viewed on social media over 700,000 times.

Prime Minister Theresa May was one of the guests at the national event in Liverpool, where more than 200,000 people came to show their support.

The event included flypasts by the Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, parades, military bands and a visit to Liverpool docks by the Royal Navy’s type-23 frigate HMS Iron Duke.

May said: "I’ve seen first-hand the amazing job that the men and women of all three services do, whether helping to deal with the recent emergencies we have seen here in Manchester and London, or taking the fight to Daesh in Syria and Iraq."

She added: "It is right that we show our support, both by holding events such as this and ensuring that that those who serve or have served, and their families, have what they need."

The sentiment was echoed by defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon. He commented: "We owe a huge gratitude to the men and women of our Armed Forces and salute their service in keeping us safe each and every day."

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