Project: Army on Everest West Ridge Expedition 2006
Client: Mark Bainbridge, marketing director, Army Recruiting Group
Agency: PCI Fitch
Writer: Mark Hodder
Designers: Tiki Graves, Julien Buckley, Paul Le Herissier, Dan Sanderson
That this campaign won both in the best use of interactive and the best acquisition marketing categories goes some way toward showing how its diverse use of digital channels achieved the holy grail of digital marketing: combining brand building with direct response.
As a brand, the Army has suffered from its association with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, with anti-war sentiment affecting its popularity as a career.
Faced with the challenge of attracting a young male audience bombarded by, and sceptical of, marketing messages, the internet was an obvious medium. But it was the combination of a great offline idea - an attempt by an Army team to scale the West Ridge of Mount Everest - with innovative use of new digital channels that made this campaign stand out.
Google Earth was used for a step-by-step aerial view of the summit attempt, and users could zoom through a 3-D map of the area and access panoramic photos and a gallery of stills from the climb.
The climbers shot live video footage during the attempt, which was used as part of a TV and radio campaign, as well as for mobile phone downloads and more than 100 video podcasts. Users could also subscribe to a text-alert service for breaking news on the attempt, while an online ad campaign updated by an RSS feed from the Army on Everest ran on relevant websites.
Although the actual climb ended in failure due to adverse weather, the campaign itself was the Army's most successful ever in recruitment terms, according to Mark Bainbridge, the marketing director of the Army Recruiting Group. It reported a 100 per cent rise in recruitment enquiries on the previous quarter. The campaign also helped improve the perception of the brand.