For an initiative as critical as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America's outreach to combat veterans, research served as the focal point. Ad agency BBDO conducted much of the research in the form of focus groups with veterans. While specific points couldn’t be revealed, here’s a synopsis of the findings and recommendations as to how they might be applied to the campaign.
• Combat is a “leveler”: Being in battle together forms a bond that cuts across military rank, gender and race, and thus targets and messages can be more generally defined.
• Credibility: Veterans demand authentic, credible messaging, thus the IAVA’s credibility should be leveraged.
• Messaging Consideration: Show a respectful attitude toward the military, but don’t overplay patriotism.
• The Online Experience: Connection with other vets is “the key to normalcy,” and is strongly desired by the respondents; the campaign must make sure that there are forums to discuss all critical issues (i.e. jobs, alcohol, combat experience, etc).
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