Us Army Digital, Case study White Hats Needed [image] by McCann New York

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White Hats Needed [image]

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Industry Government & Other Authorities
Media Digital, Interactive & Mobile, Case study
Market United States
Agency McCann New York
Executive Creative Director Mat Bisher, Dan Donovan
Art Director Emlyn Portillo
Producer James Lawson
Production MRM//Mccann New York
Released October 2016


Cannes Lions 2017
Media Channels: Use of Digital Platforms Bronze Lion

Credits & Description

Title: White Hats Needed
Agency: Mccann New York
Brand: Us Army
Country: USA
Entrant Company: Mccann New York
Advertising Agency: Mccann New York
Media Agency: Um, New York
Pr Agency: Weber Shandwick, New York
Production Company: Mrm//Mccann, New York
Additional Company: Casanova//Mccann, Costa Mesa / Momentum Worldwide, New York
Executive Creative Director: Mat Bisher (Mccann New York)
Executive Creative Director: Dan Donovan (Mccann New York)
Evp Executive Account Director: Lisa Nocella (Mccann New York)
Svp Executive Strategy Director: Mike Medeiros (Mccann New York)
Vp Group Creative Director: Dov Zmood (Vp Group Creative Director)
Vp Creative Director: David Waraksa (Mccann New York)
Art Director: Emlyn Portillo (Mccann New York)
Strategy Director: Jessica Mendoza (Mccann New York)
Svp Group Account Director: Anne Bartscherer (Mccann New York)
Account Supervisor: Erika Vikse Dimaso (Mccann New York)
Account Supervisor: Joseph Lebowitz (Mccann New York)
Producer: James Lawson (Mccann New York)
Campaign Description:
Convince the hard to find hackers to come to us, by challenging them to find a hidden message and prove their skills.We created a TV commercial that operated at two levels: 1.Informing a mass audience that the U.S. Army is fighting a new threat, away from the traditional battlefield. 2.And simultaneously, disguised a call to action that spoke to hackers yet was hiding in plain sight. Using subtle messaging, we successfully lured hackers using methods germane to them. Those who recognized the message would eventually find their way to a website that they were challenged to hack.
We open in a nondescript basement with an unmanned laptop rapidly typing lines of code. A digitized voice boasts its ability to shut down our power grids and paralyze our infrastructure. Just as the voice is about to assert its invincibility, it is stopped mid-sentence. We cut to the interior of an Army cyber command center and see those responsible for foiling the attack. Upon second look, the code was not “prop type” but a real message to hackers directing them to a site featuring a decryption puzzle, created by real Army Cyber Command personnel. Hackers were required to use a cypher key to decrypt the code. The encryption key was changed frequently, preventing hackers from using social media to help others successfully cheat the code. Only a select few could solve the puzzle. These elite hackers received decrypted text inviting them to contact the U.S. Army’s Cyber Command division.
Cyber-attacks targeting U.S. Government institutions is on the rise. In fact, over the past 10 years, attacks have increased by 1300%. As America's largest and most diverse military branch, the U.S. Army bears the responsibility of defending American energy grids, nuclear facilities and other critical infrastructure. To do that, the Army needs to recruit American women and men who possess rare and vital hacking skills AND a desire to use those skills for good. Those people call themselves "White Hats" BUT there aren't many of them in the U.S.
Create a challenge that deliberately rejects the vast majorityFinding elite hackers to join the U.S. Army is no easy feat. The United States lacks cyber-defense experts, in fact, during a cyber warfare game conducted by NATO last year, the U.S. ranked 25th—out of 25 countries. Dead last! To add insult to injury, the select few with superior hacking skills perceive the Army as an antiquated, overly regulated organization that couldn’t possibly attract the best and brightest. So we purposely vetted people by challenging them every step of the way. The first challenge was identifying the disguised message within the TV spot, the second challenge was solving a frequently-changing cypher on the website, and the third was hacking the cypher code. As a result, only a select few managed to pass all challenges and were given direct access to contact the U.S. Army Cyber Command.
Highest conversion rate in Army Marketing HistoryWithin a few months, over 700,000 hackers attempted to decrypt the puzzle. Each failed attempt spurred further participation and generated buzz within the hacking community that the U.S. Army is serious about attracting elite talent. Thanks to the puzzle’s complexity, 99% of participants were “weeded out” for lacking the necessary skills to join the Army’s Cyber Command. Of those who did prove good enough, 30% contacted Army Cyber Command directly—a conversion rate 15 times the Army’s average!
The U.S. Army needed to find recruits with elite hacking skills to help defend America against cyberattacks. But with so few Americans possessing the necessary skills, it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. So, with White Hats Wanted, we used our TV commercial as both a net and a magnet; going broad with a conventional message and hiding a coded message within the commercial that only the people we want could recognize. In 3 months the spot drew more than 700,000 hackers into an online vetting process that led to only the best contacting U.S. Army Cyber Command recruiting.