The History Channel Promo, Case study “CALL FOR PHOTOS” CAMPAIGN by Civic Entertainment Group

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Industry TV Channels/Radio Stations and Programmes
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Civic Entertainment Group
Released November 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Corporate Responsibility
Product/Service: VIETNAM IN HD
Vice President/Marketing: Chris Meador (History)
Director/Consumer Promotions And Partnerships: Tracy Lenhart (History)
Manager/Marketing: Jennifer Hayes (History)
Co-Chief Executive: Stuart Ruderfer (Civic Entertainment Group)
Co-Chief Executive: David Cohn (Civic Entertainment Group)
Vice President: Spencer Rice (Civic Entertainment Group)
Vice President: Seth Grossbard (Civic Entertainment Group)
Account Manager: Diana Liao (Civic Entertainment Group)
Account Coordinator: Ben Turk (Civic Entertainment Group)
Vice President Programming: Susan Werbe (History)
Chief Historian and Senior Vice President, Corporate Outreach: Doctor Libby O’Connell (History)
Historian and Director, Corporate Outreach: Doctor Kimberly Gilmore (History)
Vice President, PR and Communications: Lynn Gardner (History)
Senior Director, Publicity: Vicky Kahn (History)
Media placement: National Press Release - AP, NBC-NY Nightly News - 10/8/2011
Media placement: NYC Event Media Alert - - 10/10/2011
Media placement: Times Square, NYC Event - NY Daily News, NY1, Fox & Friends, WNYW, SF Chronicle,, The Epoch Times, WCBS-AM - 10/11/2011
Media placement: Local Philadelphia Event Media Alert - Philadelphia Inquirer - 10/12/2011
Media placement: Philadelphia Event - WPVI-PHI, Philadelphia Inquirer, Fox News - 10/13/2011
Media placement: Atlanta Event Media Alert - - 10/24/2011
Media placement: Atlanta Event - 640-WGST, Atlanta Journal Constitution, CBS-ATL, FOX-ATL, NBC-ATL, ABC-ATL, CBS-Savannah, Macon Tel. - 10/25/2011
Media placement: Chicago Event Alert - - 11/2/2011
Media placement: Chicago Event -, Chicago Sun-Times - 11/3/2011
Media placement: Veterans Day Event, Washington, DC - The Independent, The Southhampton Press, Real Screen, Multichannel News - 11/11/2011

Summary of the Campaign
In November 2011, cable network History premiered the 6-hour miniseries, Vietnam in HD, the first all-new, large-scale American-produced documentary about the Vietnam War in nearly 30 years. History has a long-standing commitment to supporting veterans and members of the military through on-air programming and corporate initiatives.

History looked to extend a long-overdue 'thank you' to Vietnam veterans and drive awareness for the miniseries.

The Network partnered with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) to generate national awareness for a campaign to collect a photo for all 58,272 names memorialized on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ('The Wall'). Photos are being collected for a permanent exhibit at the new VVMF Education Center - a museum/visitor’s center scheduled to open in 2014.

A 2-month campaign was launched to honor those who served in Vietnam, which included 'Call for Photos' events in New York City, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Chicago, a Veterans Day event at in Washington, DC as well as a national call-to-action via its on-air programming, marketing channels as well as in 500+ Barnes and Noble stores.

The result was local and national press-coverage, an increase in photos submissions by 147% and an outpouring of gratitude and appreciation from Vietnam veterans and family members of those killed in Vietnam. Vietnam in HD drew an audience of more than 6m viewers over its 3-night broadcast and became the second-highest-rated miniseries on History in 2011.

The Situation
History is the number 1 non-fiction cable-network in the US, number 5 overall, and has a long-standing commitment to supporting veterans and the military through its on-air programming and corporate initiatives.

TV specials on the Vietnam War have not typically rated well, primarily because the War is still looked upon unfavorably and Americans continue to have difficulty separating the politics from those that served in Vietnam.

History looked to 'right a wrong' by extending a long-overdue 'thank you' to those that served in Vietnam, while raising awareness for the miniseries Vietnam in HD.

The Goal
Producing Vietnam in HD was part of a broader corporate commitment to lead a national dialogue about Vietnam. History sought to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of Vietnam veterans and drive viewership for Vietnam in HD.

Adults 25-54 (History’s core audience) and the military community (active-duty, veterans and their families) were targeted.

History identified the VVMF as a leading organization - supporting Vietnam veterans and with its grassroots campaign to collect a photo for all 58,272 names memorialized on the Vietnam Memorial Wall - as the most appropriate and effective partner to achieve its objectives.

The Strategy
History looked at America’s current conflicts and how the idea of supporting service members and veterans regardless of politics has become universally accepted. The timing of Vietnam in HD offered a unique opportunity to publicly recognize the service of those that served during the Vietnam era.

History partnered with the VVMF to launch a 2-month national campaign, which featured 'Call for Photos' events and an integrated on-air, online and PR initiative:

- Identified major media-markets to host events, which in the past were cost-prohibitive to a non-profit organisation like the VVMF;
- Approached high profile elected officials, many of whom had served in Vietnam, to support the campaign;
- Invited Vietnam veterans and family-members to share their story and photos with local media-outlets;
- Solicited the support of local veterans organisations;
- Developed co-branded (History/VVMF) collateral materials.

A 2-month campaign was launched in October featuring 'Call for Photos' events, beginning with Times Square, New York City; Independence Mall, Philadelphia; Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta; and downtown Chicago. They culminated on Veterans Day (11/11) with a ceremony at 'The Wall'.

A national release was issued followed by individual alerts for each event. Outreach to local media featured families who had lost a father or brother in Vietnam and who shared their personal stories.

High-profile speakers such as the Mayors of NYC, Philadelphia and Atlanta, retired generals, Medal of Honor recipients and US Senators spoke at the events and many shared photos of friends lost in Vietnam.

The public was invited to pay tribute at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s Wall That Heals (a traveling half-scale replica of The Wall) and a photo-scanning station was set-up for submissions.

A call-to-action was issued on History and through its marketing channels.

Documented Results
National Awareness:
50+ media placements and 15m+ earned impressions;
Photo submissions increased by 147%.

6m+ viewers tuned in to 3-night broadcast (20% more than time-slot average);
Number 2 special on History (2011).

Outpouring of Appreciation from Vets:
"[After the war]...I got off the plane, a man asked, 'Are you back from Vietnam? I’ve got your girl and your job – Welcome home.' That was my parade. You changed that. For the first time, I felt welcome and appreciated. Thank you." -Fred Honerkamp, Vietnam veteran.

"I wish to pass on the thanks of every Vietnam veteran that I've talked to in the past week for giving us the first 'fair shake' in portraying us as we really were and really are... Vietnam in HD has done something that we vets haven't been able to do in 4 decades: explain to our families and friends what we went through." -Sonny Silva, Vietnam veteran.