In a Pentagon ceremony attended by public service directors from media outlets nationwide, Charles L. Cragin, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, today unveiled the 1999 public service advertising campaign for the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (NCESGR).
"Americans need to know and understand the value and benefit of maintaining the National Guard and Reserve," Cragin said. "Since the first public service announcement (PSA) in 1973 with Bill Proxmire and (the late) Barry Goldwater, we have benefited from nearly $850 million in unpaid advertising encouraging employer support."
This year's campaign was created, for the public good, by the Warwick, Baker, O'Neill advertising agency, based in New York, and will be managed by the Ad Council through national, regional and local media outlets. It emphasizes the critical role played by today's Reserve forces and the necessity for continued support by employers.
"Reservists cannot meet their military commitments without the support of employers," Cragin said. "That's why the efforts of Warwick, Baker, O'Neill and the Ad Council are so very critical."
The ad campaign will consist of television commercials and radio spots varying in length from one minute to 10 seconds, print ads (newspapers, business press and magazines), and web site banners.
The 1999 television public service spot, "Alarm," was premiered for an audience of more than 80 media public service directors, Ad Council executives, advertising agency representatives, and Department of Defense officials. It is the centerpiece of a campaign, conducted by the Ad Council, to inform the public and employers about the growing role of the National Guard and Reserve in our national military strategy, while emphasizing the necessity for continued support by employers.
The television spot depicts a seemingly deserted U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, a Naval Reserve aircraft carrier, without any people or music, and sound effects dramatizing the emptiness. When an alarm sounds, the crew emerges and a Naval Reserve jet airplane takes off. A narrator states that half of the US military force is made up of the National Guard and Reserve, and without them, and their employers' support, we would not have the resources needed if and when there is a call to action.
The message for this year's campaign resulted from focus-group research conducted in Atlanta, Denver and Detroit, according to Cragin. The research revealed that employers generally understand they must cooperate with employees who need time off for military training, and that they have a very positive view of potential employees who have served in the military.
"The focus groups found that 25 years of public service advertising and other outreach efforts have been highly effective," Cragin said. "Employers are generally very supportive of our Guardsmen and Reservists. But we also found that many employers are not entirely aware that the nature of Reserve service has changed considerably since we began the PSA campaign over two decades ago."
Cragin said the new reality of increased use of the Guard and Reserve represents a profound paradigm shift, because the Reserves are no longer a force waiting along the sidelines.
"They are not 'weekend warriors' anymore - they are Total Force warriors," Cragin said. "And we increasingly depend on them to protect our vital interests around the world and here at home."
Employers pride themselves on their patriotic support of the Guard and Reserve, and they pride themselves for their flexibility to adapt to changing requirements in their workplace, according to Cragin.
"Our new PSA attempts to tell that story in terms of today's Total Force," Cragin said. "I'm confident that they will assimilate this new message and be supportive."
In recognition of their support to the Department of Defense and NCESGR, Cragin presented plaques to Theresa Osypuk and Arie Weissman representing the Ad Council, and Tom Groves and Tom Muratore, from Baker, Warwick, O'Neill.
Ceremony participants also viewed some of the NCESGR commercials from prior years, including the very first, produced in 1973, featuring William Proxmire and the late Barry Goldwater. NCESGR was chartered in 1972 when the U.S. Armed Forces were transitioning to an all-volunteer force. The committee was designed to minimize conflicts between part-time military duties and full-time civilian career responsibilities. Today more than half of the nation's military strength resides in the National Guard and Reserve.
For more information, contact Lt. Col. Jon Fory at (703) 696-5098 or Lt. Col. Terry Jones at (703) 695-3620.