The USO hired JWT to lead creative strategy and execution of its national brand advertising campaign after a competitive pitch involving five agencies. Names of the other shops in the review were not disclosed.
Paul Allvin, senior VP-brand advancement for the USO, said when he came onboard last March, he was focused on two main priorities: carrying the organization through a brand refresh and celebrating its 75th anniversary on Feb. 4.
Prior to issuing an request for proposals and hiring an agency, Mr. Allvin said the USO, which is not a government agency, analyzed its "core brand expression" and optimized its logo and website.
"Before we went to who we are at age 75 and what this milestone means to us, we wanted to go back to what really matters about this organization," he added.
Mr. Allvin said JWT had a keen understanding of how to speak to military members and their families, with relevant experience such as a 67-year partnership with the United States Marine Corps. The agency also impressed the USO with moving campaign ideas and smart execution strategies, he said.
The campaign narrative, which will include TV, radio, digital, social, out-of-home and direct response elements, will focus on reintroducing the USO in a more compelling way to a wider audience. Two goals for include driving more interest among service members and getting more Americans to support its cause.
The USO will also explain its programs for military spouses and children and veterans. The USO is not a veteran service, but with more than 1million service members transitioning out of the military and into civilian life over the next five years, Mr. Allvin said the organization will do its best to set them on the right trajectory.
"It's about supporting service members from when they enter the military to when they leave and that means being there with them wherever they're assigned," said Mr. Allvin. "The USO is the agent of connection for people who sign up and volunteer to serve, which requires separation from the very things they're defending."
In addition to veteran programs, the USO uses technology to help service men and women stay connected with friends and family members. "Whether we're providing Skype services so parents can see their kids half away around the world or so men can be in the room virtually when their wife is in labor, we're reaffirming that America remembers them, is behind them and supports them," said Mr. Allvin.
While campaign elements will not start appearing until late March or early April, the USO still plans on being "very noisy and celebratory" next month on its 75th anniversary, said Mr. Allvin.
He declined to disclose specific budget information for the initiative, but said it's "well into the six-figures."
The USO was created in February 1941 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a way to up morale of America's military men and women, according to the organization's website.