Case Study: DM-fueled Patriotism Delivers for National WWII Memorial
The U.S. Congress authorized the memorial in May of 1993, with legislation stipulating that funding for it would have to be raised mainly through private sources. After three years of prep time, fundraising efforts began in force in 1996, and the ABMC partnered with Winchell & Associates to handle DM. It wouldn’t have taken a genius to figure out the age issue. Everyone involved knew they had to act fast.
But it wasn’t all uphill, Conley explains. The project had one very important factor in its favor: patriotism.
“In direct mail, you pretty much expect to not make money at the beginning,” he says. “We started making money from the very beginning. That’s how committed people were to this memorial project.
“We were blessed with a cause that had a universal appeal,” he adds. “There isn’t an American alive who doesn’t have a family connection to World War II. Everybody in the nation was involved in that war, whether it was on the front lines or on the homefront.”
The timing was right, too, Conley says, calling it “serendipity” that just as the fundraising campaign was getting started, the film Saving Private Ryan and Tom Brokaw’s book, The Greatest Generation fueled the country’s connection to WWII. Plus, folks were feeling nostalgic because we were nearing the end of a century.
“All of these things created a national inclination to look back on those war years and recognize how important they really were and how special that generation was,” he explains. “
The right stuff
Sen. Bob Dole had signed on early as the national chairman of the campaign and, with the success of Saving Private Ryan, the ABMC approached Tom Hanks, who participated ina two-year public-service advertising campaign that amounted to the equivalent of $90 million in free advertising, Conley says.