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Cragin Brief on Guard, Reserve Ad Campaign

Presenters: Charles L. Cragin, Acting Assistant Secretary Of Defense For Reserve Affairs
April 25, 2001

Wednesday, April 25, 2001 - 10:01 a.m. EST

(Special briefing on the public service announcement campaign of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. Also participating: Arie Weissman, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Ad Council; Tom Hay, account director, Warwick Baker O'Neill; and Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, deputy assistant secretary of Defense, Public Affairs.)

Quigley: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for attending.

Mr. Charlie Cragin is a man that wears many hats during his time of government service here in the Department of Defense. The hat in which I will introduce him this morning is the acting assistant secretary for Reserve Affairs. There are few people more qualified to hold that position than Mr. Cragin, and one that he has served very, very well through several years of the past administration, and is one of those few that Secretary Rumsfeld has asked to stay on because of his unique contributions to what he brings to this particular job. And he is here today to discuss with us a significant step in the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program in the months ahead.

And without further ado, Mr. Cragin.

Cragin: Thanks, Admiral Quigley, and good morning, everyone. This is the PSA briefing. If you think that this is the Prostate Serum Antigen briefing -- (laughter) -- you're in the wrong briefing! (More laughter.)

Let me take an opportunity to thank everybody for joining us this morning. We really appreciate your attendance. I see a lot of familiar faces in the audience, including the senior enlisted advisers of all of our Reserve components. It's a pleasure to have them with us today. They're here conducting their Senior Enlisted Advisers Council Meeting.

As I said, we're here to launch a public service announcement. It's the 2001 Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve television PSA campaign. The objective of the campaign is to raise awareness about the increased role of the Guard and Reserve in military operations.

The Guard and Reserve now comprise nearly half of America's armed forces. Our members assist in international disaster relief, international peacekeeping efforts, and national emergencies. In fact, today more than 600 National Guard and Coast Guard Reserve members are supporting recovery operations for severe flooding in the Mississippi River regions of the Midwest.

America's Reserve components are a streamlined, ready and engaged force. They are enforcing the no-fly zone over Iraq, building new partnerships with old adversaries in Europe, and serving, for example, in Bosnia, where 42,000 members of the Guard and Reserve have helped bring peace to a divided and devastated land.

These missions are what we tried to capture in the PSA.

For more than 29 years, the Ad Council has assisted in generating more than $978 million in public service advertising for the Guard and Reserve. We greatly appreciate their assistance over the past three decades.

The Ad Council teamed with the New York City agency of Warwick Baker O'Neill to create and produce this PSA, titled "Captions." It will be distributed to more than 28,000 media outlets, which, as you can imagine, is a huge undertaking.

Past PSA campaigns have produced incredible results for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. Last year the PSA campaign generated approximately $40 million in donated advertising. We expect this year's campaign to exceed that.

On February 14th, President Bush visited the headquarters of the Air National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing at Yeager Field in West Virginia, focusing that day on National Guard and Reserve members and their employers. During his visit, President Bush spoke to the employers and said, "Citizen soldiers have always depended on selfless employers. You put love of country above love of profit, and you have the gratitude of our nation."

The PSA you are about to view conveys the critical role civilian employers of our Guard and Reserve members play in providing service members time off from their work in order to perform their duty. Today more than ever, America's employers play a vital role in our nation's defense, and I want to thank them for their efforts.

I'm going to invite Mr. Arie Weissman, the executive vice president and chief financial officer from the Ad Council, and Mr. Tom Hay, account director from Warwick Baker O'Neill, to join me at the podium to make brief comments, after which we will introduce you to the 30-second and the 20-second versions of our public service announcement.

Arie? Tom?

Let me give you a special dispensation for the videographers in our audience. (Laughter.)

Weissman: Thank you very much. Good morning, and thank you.

Cragin: Once a public affairs officer, always a public affairs officer. (Laughter.)

Weissman: And thank you again, Secretary Cragin. It's an honor and a privilege to introduce the latest public service advertising messages, PSAs, for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

As the secretary just mentioned, ESGR and the Ad Council have been partners since 1972, and this message has grown to be one of our most successful campaigns during this time. And it's without the benefit of a spokesman like McGruff the Crime Dog, or other well-known titles, like "Friends don't let friends drive drunk," or "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." These are great tag lines that we've developed over the years. But in this case the reason for the campaign's success is it's an important message to America.

As you know, the National Guard and Reserve members now comprise almost 50 percent of the U.S. armed services, and they play a vital role to our nation's defense. What's even more remarkable is that these same soldiers lead completely different lives in the private sector. You'll see in a couple moments, some are math teachers, bankers, doctors, engineers and social workers. And even the head of the not-for-profit, public service advertising agency -- that's right, the Ad Council's president and CEO, Peggy Conlon, who, unfortunately, could not be here this morning -- served for seven years in the Naval Reserves as a public affairs officer. So these are the same people who defend and protect our country, and they also maintain civilian jobs.

Our research reports that the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve members are in fact very responsive. And these members are always up for a major challenge, and you'll see that in the 30-second TV spot.

The volunteer ad agency, Warwick Baker O'Neill, did a beautiful job in creating the work this year. We would also like to thank the agency, the entire team, for their consistency in producing these public service messages for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. And they've done it on a pro bono basis. They volunteer their time and effort.

The work you'll see is exceptional.

Another major player in formulating the PSA messages is the media. For the past 59 years, the Ad Council has dedicated itself to addressing major issues and pressing issues. We've raised awareness, inspired individuals to take action, and we even saved lives. And the way we can do this is through the strong support of the media, the media outlets, who have donated last year, in calendar year 2000, $1.5 billion of free time and space to all of our campaigns, all 40 campaigns. As Secretary Cragin mentioned, just last year the Guard and Reserve received about $40 million of free time and space through the media, and over the 29 years that we've worked together, the campaign has generated almost a billion dollars, $972 million.

So thanks again to the volunteer agency who has helped us in this effort, Warwick Baker O'Neill. And we truly believe that public service advertising does make a difference. And I'm confident that the media will continue to run this campaign, the broadcast and people who give us space in the press; they're strong supporters, and they'll continue to do that. That employers all over the country will realize the important role that they play in the national defense by allowing our men and women of the National Guard and Reserve to train with their units.

So on that note, I want to thank you, and I want to introduce Tom Hay, the account director from Warwick Baker O'Neill.

Hay: Thank you, Arie. Secretary Cragin.

Good morning, everyone. I know you want to get to see the PSA, so I'm going to be brief, but I want to tell you a little about it.

First of all, I'm very proud to be here today representing our agency and the work we've done on behalf of ESGR and the Ad Council. The ESGR assignment is a very special one for us, for, though we do it for free, as Arie pointed out, we get some other rewards that are very important. One, we have the honor of doing our part to support the mission of the Guard and Reserve. And also, it can be a heck of a lot of fun. You know, the chance to go out and film men and women in action, live helicopters, planes and tanks in mock battlefield situations, is a lot more interesting and exciting than bottles of mustard, computer printers -- (laughter) -- or antacid tablets. I mean, face it. So the creative team especially had a good time.

A couple points of background on what you're going to see. Three main objectives: First, to communicate the importance of the mission, which Secretary Cragin outlined. Our research found very low awareness of the role that Guard and Reserve members play in today's military forces.

The second objective is to convey how important it is for employers to support that mission, because it can't be done without them.

And the third is to register the ESGR name and drive employers to the web site, because we found that once they knew there was a place they could get information, they wanted to go there and find out what their rights and responsibilities were.

So that's what our mission is here.

The concept we feel is very powerful. It also seemed very simple at the time, you know, just film a number of different Reservists putting themselves on the line in a battle situation, and juxtapose it with their real occupation, and while we're at it, throw in a few different service components, you know, doing things in different places at different times. It's a great vision but, unfortunately, we had a very small budget. So the reality of it was, replicating World War III for a very limited amount of money is almost impossible. And also, pulling together these different components in one place and one time, which sounded easy to us, we found out it's a very difficult thing. But thanks to the dedication of the ESGR staff and all the Guard and Reservists themselves, it came together, and I think beautifully.

Now, a couple of points about the filming. Once the cameras started to roll, I mean, it was really amazing. The different Guard and Reserve units, to a man and woman, not only answered the call, but went beyond the call, time after time. You know, we had hoped and prayed for three or maybe five Navy SEALs to help us out; 14 showed up. When we asked our Marine landing party to swim in from a half mile off shore so we could capture it on film, we figured we'd get one take and we'd be lucky. They insisted on swimming all the way out and coming back in until we had just what we wanted. (Laughter.)

Mr.: Thanks, Dennis! (More laughter.)

Hay: When the director had a brilliant idea for capturing soldiers rappelling down from the helicopters from an actual soldier, someone volunteered and they strapped on this huge camera rig; they looked like a Teletubbie in camo -- (laughter) -- and that was one of our shots.

And that's just a couple of the examples. We had extra soldiers, extra equipment show up every day, and not only did they follow the directions that the director gave them, they also added something on, and you just don't get that with SAG, I'm telling you. (Laughter.) It's a real testament to the character of today's Reservists, so we thank ESGR for this opportunity, and we hope to continue serving on the team well into the future.

And now you get to see what we're talking about, and I hope you enjoy it. Thank you.

(Public Service Announcement is shown.)

Hay: So what do you think? (Applause.)

(A second Public Service Announcement is shown.)

Cragin: Very good. Very good. (Applause.)

Tom, I would say that you accomplished all of your three mission assignments, and to be able to encapsulate all of that into 30 seconds and then 20 seconds is absolutely amazing. But you're absolutely right, you got an opportunity to work with some of the greatest young men and women in the world, and it's a heck of a lot better than mustard! (Laughter.)

Hay: Don't tell French's that! (Laughter.)

Cragin: (Laughs.) But really, let me take an opportunity; we have a number of the Reserve chiefs here and some of the senior leadership of our Reserve forces. Let me say thanks to each and every one of you for providing the assistance, because without that assistance, obviously, we wouldn't be able to produce this message, we wouldn't be able to get it out across America.

I know a number of you have heard me say before, but I guess it's worth being reminded of again, that as the demographics of America have changed and as we have moved into a society in which the last person, the last 18-year-old in America to be conscripted is now 46 years old, we are in the second generation of an all-volunteer force and we are in the second generation of a smaller volunteer force, and if you look at the population between the ages of 65 and 18, you'll find that only one out of every 10 people has any military experience. And so when you're a member of the Guard or Reserve and you're talking to your supervisor or your employer, nine out of 10 times you can operate on the premise that they don't have a clue about what military is all about.

And this is a great opportunity for us to be able to thank them for supporting the Guard and Reserve and also to call to their attention that they have amongst them in their employment some of the best and the brightest and the most dedicated men and women in the world, and those are the men and women who serve in America's military.

This PSA was shot out at Fort Irwin and North Island Naval Air Station and Camp Pendleton in California, and I think everybody that had anything to do with this production deserves a great round of applause, and I hope you'll join with me in giving it to them. (Applause.) And because Arie was so good, I'm going to re-present him with his badge before he leaves here. (Laughter.)

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our prepared presentation. If any of you have any questions about employer support of the Guard and Reserve, about the PSA specifically, I'd be happy to try to answer them, and if you don't have any questions, we can adjourn. But are there any questions? All right, I declare this session adjourned. (Laughter.) Thank you.

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