Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services (FRES) needed a multi-media campaign that would: 1. Boost recruitment of volunteer firefighters and first responders; 2. Motivate Facebook page “Likes” and retain engagement. FRES wanted to establish a new communication tone that would appeal to a younger, more skilled population of potential recruits.
- FRES received an additional 2,300 recruits in the first year of the campaign.
- The FRES Facebook page experienced a 207 percent increase in “likes.”
- A study to determine how these “better recruits” impacted performance, year to year, revealed a 37 percent decrease in property loss, a 38 percent decrease in civilian casualties and a 30-second decrease in average response time.
- Promax Gold for Art Direction
- Promax Bronze for PSA
- Communicator Award of Distinction
- Telly Award
Call of Duty
For Suffolk County Fire Rescue and Emergency Services (FRES) to appeal to a younger, more skilled population of potential recruits, Nutmeg determined that FRES communications should be more casual, conversational, trendy and cool while taking advantage of the fact that the target audience increasingly consumes content on multiple screens at once—televisions, cell phones, laptops.
While some may have responded to the “nitty gritty” aspect of previous campaigns—civic responsibility, tuition reimbursement, etc.—Nutmeg posited that, for the majority, becoming a recruit is about something more special. It’s about joining a select community of heroes. It’s about being extraordinary, elevated. It’s about standing out from the pack and reporting for duty. FRES’s messaging had to evolve beyond asking people to merely be a responsible neighbor. FRES had to challenge potential recruits to be amazing, and that inspired the campaign tag line: “Volunteer to be amazing.” That, Nutmeg concluded, had a much more dramatic, visceral and ultimately effective appeal.
How best to communicate that appeal? We borrowed a page from Marvel comics. With two “Avengers” movies and “Iron Man 3” among the 10 highest grossing movies of all time, Marvel has established comic book heroes as pop culture icons. Firefighters and emergency service responders are among the “original” American heroes, and Marvel has a celebrated history of teaming up with fire departments to create promotional materials. Nutmeg proposed that the comic book aesthetic would create an instant “get,” capturing the larger-than-life heroism of emergency responders and serving it up in a cool, hip, graphically appealing and memorable package.
Home of the Bravest
That was the visual essence of our campaign—go big, get noticed, be amazing. To that end, we engaged veteran Marvel artist Bong Dazo (“Wolverine,” “Shadowland,” “Deadpool,” “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic”) to help execute. For our 30-second television spot, Dazo created a passionate, compelling message within a Marvel-esque graphic novel world with narration that we amplified with corresponding graphics and images designed to entertain and motivate. A radio spot featured a longer, more robust version of the television copy that created a propulsive rhythm and pace (music was key) while retaining the casual, direct, authentic tone. For digital, we created a new palette of visual assets to freshen the FRES digital advertising presence. The new “Volunteer to be amazing” call to arms drove the succinct messaging, directing viewers to the FRES Facebook page via the Marvel-inspired graphics. To encourage long-term engagement to Facebook rather than a single or occasional visit, Nutmeg supervised a new approach that focused on humorous, casual and graphical content instead of PR-type updates. The results speak for themselves. Amazing.
That was the visual essence of our campaign—go big, get noticed, be amazing.Nutmeg
Creative Director, Art Director, Copywriter: Dave Rogan
Graphics Supervisor: Stephen C. Walsh
Account Executive: Caroline Nixon
Sound Designers/Mixers: JD McMillin, Frank Verderosa