Reaching Millions

Army National Guard Soldier of Steel Campaign


One of the Army National Guard’s (ARNG) challenges is explaining the concept of Citizen-Soldier—ordinary citizens who put on uniforms in times of need to protect their communities and families. Such a concept is difficult to convey in a short-format message like an online banner ad.

To compound this challenge, the National Guard is given the second largest recruiting mission of all military branches, yet they have the second smallest advertising budget. LMO was tasked with increasing awareness, consideration and generating 100,000 qualified leads within their target audience of 17-24 year olds.


Through market research, we recognized that 66% of 17-24 year olds attend movies at least once every 90 days—that’s more than professional and college sporting events combined. Movie theaters are also one of the last places where a brand still has a captive audience (i.e., cell phone free).

In 2013, we learned of a summer blockbuster on the horizon that was a perfect fit for a partnership with the National Guard. Who better to help 17-24 year olds understand the duality of Citizen-Solider than Clark Kent/Superman? We anticipated that by aligning with a high-end major motion picture, Man of Steel, we could catapult the National Guard’s awareness.

In-theater advertising was the centerpiece of the campaign, including 30 and 60 second spots running immediately prior to the start of the film, lobby standees, lobby area network screen ads and more. However, the success of the campaign also relied on robust content marketing to turn in-theater awareness into prospects and leads for the recruiting force. The channels and tactics of our content marketing approach included:

  • Direct Mail
  • Email
  • Social Media
  • Influencer Marketing
  • SMS/Text
  • Event Marketing
  • Print Publications
  • Microsite
  • Gaming
  • Video
  • Digital Media


The Soldier of Steel campaign exceeded all expectations and contributed to the success of the critical recruitment mission of the ARNG:

  • Awareness of the National Guard increased by 15%*
  • Consideration to join the National Guard increased by 50%*
  • The National Guard moved to #1 as the branch of choice ranking*
  • 104,872 pre-qualified leads generated

​​*Pre- and post-campaign survey among moviegoers

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