New York, New York November 11, 2009 /PRNewswire/ — To coincide with Veterans Day, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) joined the Ad Council today to launch a new series of national public service advertisements (PSAs) for their Veteran Support Campaign. The national outreach campaign aims to ease the readjustment challenges facing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as they transition from combat to civilian life. The PSAs encourage new veterans to join IAVA’s online community at www.iava.org, a social network exclusively for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. In the community, veterans can connect with one another, share their experiences, receive advice and support and get access to critical resources and special offers. Launched on Veterans Day 2008, the campaign also includes a complementary series of ads and a website, www.supportyourvet.org, directed at the families and friends of these veterans.
Of the nearly two million veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 20 percent have screened positive for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression and 19 percent suffer from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Defense, more than 230 active soldiers, airmen and marines committed suicide last year, which is the highest military suicide statistic in nearly 30 years.
Research shows that many veterans avoid seeking help because of the stigma associated with treatment or fear of being diagnosed with a mental illness. By maintaining relationships and communicating regularly with others who have shared experiences, veterans are better able to reconnect with their friends, families and communities more broadly.
The new PSAs build on the success of the campaign and community over the past year. Since the launch on Veteran’s Day 2008, IAVA’s online community has become a robust social network helping thousands of veterans with their transition home. Since its inception, nearly 3,000 veterans have joined the community. The site has been visited over 700,000 times with more than 500,000 unique visitors. There are more than 200 groups in COV that range from Purple Heart recipients to PTSD Help to Veteran Video Gamers. These groups have formed the backbone of a critical support network for new veterans. With veterans from every state represented, the community has become a critical tool for connecting veterans who are often geographically dispersed, and might otherwise experience feelings of isolation and loneliness. IAVA and the Ad Council have heard from hundreds of veterans who have benefited from the community, proving the immediate and lasting potential for the campaign.
“This historic campaign is literally saving lives. By giving Iraq and Afghanistan veterans a community of their own they are able to connect and support one another in a way that wasn’t possible before,” IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff. “The first year was only the beginning. Over the next few years, we will continue to grow the community and make an even greater impact on returning veterans. IAVA thanks the Ad Council and Saatchi & Saatchi for being such committed partners.”
“For the longest time I felt like I was the only one going through things, but through this community I found otherwise. No matter what our deployment jobs, service or experiences were, we still share the places we went. Whether I am having a good day or a bad day I know this is the place I can come to for encouragement and support,” said Afghanistan veteran and IAVA community member Laurie Emmer.
Created pro bono by ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, the new TV, radio, outdoor and Web PSAs launched today continue to encourage Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to join the community at www.iava.org. The ads communicate to veterans that they are not alone and their fellow veterans “have their back.” In the TV spot, one veteran is seen logging in to the community from a coffee shop as other veterans, who are camouflaged with the neighborhood surroundings, emerge from all around him to support him. Saatchi & Saatchi cast real veterans for each of the roles in the TV spot, many with combat experience in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The new PSA builds on the campaign’s first ad, which communicated that though veterans may feel like they are alone they are surrounded by their peers.
“We are proud to continue our partnership with IAVA with this new series of PSAs that will help Iraq and Afghanistan veterans receive the support and the resources they need in their transition home,” said Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of the Ad Council. “Since the launch of our campaign, we have heard from many veterans about the transformative impact that they have experienced in the community. These new ads and online tools will continue to help those who have served our country.”
“We were honored to be a part of such an important cause at a time when Vets need support the most,” said Mark Rolland, SVP, Management Director at Saatchi & Saatchi NY. “IAVA has developed this tremendous online resource for Vets, so it was our goal with the ‘We’ve got your back’ campaign to illustrate the benefit of that resource in a simple and engaging way.”
The PSA and the website have been researched extensively and tested with veterans, their families and the general market. The new ads are being distributed to approximately 33,000 media outlets nationwide. Per the Ad Council’s model, all of the ads will air and run in advertising time and space donated by the media.
Funding for the campaign was made possible by the Iraq Afghanistan Deployment Impact Fund of the California Community Foundation.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is the nation’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan group for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Founded in 2004, IAVA has more than 150,000 active veteran members and civilian supporters in all 50 states. Its mission is to improve the lives of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families. For more information, visit www.iava.org.
Saatchi & Saatchi
Saatchi & Saatchi NY (www.saatchiny.com) is the largest agency in the 150-office Saatchi & Saatchi global network, part of Publicis Groupe. It handles the Miller High Life, I Love NY Tourism Board and JCPenney businesses as well as over 40 #1 brands in its client portfolio, including: Tide, Pampers and Olay (Procter & Gamble); Pillsbury and Cheerios (General Mills); Theraflu and Triaminic (Novartis). The agency represents clients with combined annual revenues of approximately $500 billion and market capitalization of approximately $650 billion.
Saatchi & Saatchi is known for its outstanding creative ideas that generate powerful emotional connections between consumers and products. This is a key element in Lovemarks, Saatchi & Saatchi’s unique methodology for elevating the status of brands designed to create “loyalty beyond reason” and “inspirational consumers.”
The Advertising Council
The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.
The Ad Council
Saatchi & Saatchi