If You’re Wondering What Authentic Military Marketing Looks Like, This Is It | Refuel Agency

The military consumer knows a thing or two about commitment — and commitment was on full demonstration in the making of an innovative campaign that blended authentic storytelling with new media.

In the middle of a pandemic, Refuel Agency was able to create a partnership with World of Tanks Console, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and We Are The Mighty to create a full mini-documentary highlighting several very special veterans

These soldiers shared their true stories, creating an authentic sense of connection in a time of social distancing. The outcome? A successful and authentic military marketing campaign

Refuel is proud to partner with brands and agencies to connect campaigns just like these to the vital military audience with our omnichannel approach and proprietary media networks.

So what can you learn from this campaign? Here are three takeaways from this approach to military advertising that are simply spot on. 

1. It avoids stereotypes and informs with real stories

There are no cliches to be found in this campaign — only the true stories of some of the bravest tankers the world has ever known. In addition to the heartfelt interviews, it features amazing vintage footage from WWII Europe. And for the 42 million members of the military audience, this kind of authenticity goes a long way. 

The documentary starts out with a conversation between Walter Stitt, 3rd Armored Regiment, WWII, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The second interviewee is Clarence Smoyer, 32nd Armored Regiment, WWII. And the third interviewee is Joe Caserta, 32nd Armored Regiment, WWII. These are soldiers who braved a difficult time and are stepping forward to share their story as a reminder. Viewers learn firsthand what it was like to be hit by artillery while in a tank or hear about digging a foxhole at Omaha Beach.  

All consumers want to see their experiences represented authentically through advertising, but this is especially true of members of the military audience. And this partnership nailed it.

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2. It fosters connection in an era of social distancing

Effective marketing is all about timing. This ad campaign resonates in a time when audiences are spending more time online and are seeking connection with their communities. 

Even before the pandemic, the military audience was engaged with social media and streaming video — 91% of active duty military reported streaming video online a few times a month or more — making these mediums an effective channel to advertise to the military. But during the pandemic, social media has been one of the most effective ways to connect with communities, leading to increased time spent on these platforms across the population. In 2020, the average social media user (of which there are 3.196B globally) spends 2 hours and 24 minutes on social media platforms, with Facebook being the most popular.

Additionally, “The Greatest Generation” has been especially hard hit by COVID, and have felt the impact of social distancing. This campaign provides a sense of connection for both the interviewees — who were able to reunite near the end of their lives and share their stories — as well as the military community viewing the campaign. 

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3. It aligns creatively with the product

Effective ad campaigns are able to deliver engaging content that captures the target audience’s attention, all while seamlessly aligning with the promoted product. 

And this ad campaign achieved this with ease. World of Tanks Console is an online multiplayer game featuring authentic tanks from the mid-20th century — and this campaign brings the game to life by showcasing these skilled tankers, using the same tanks the product features. 

And a bonus? Data from our Military Explorer Series™ shows that the military audience is one that’s interested in video games — in fact, 20% of guard/reserve military personnel listed video games as one of their top interests. World of Tanks Console both created a product relatable to the military audience and utilized engaging storytelling to encourage increased interest.

4. It shows authentic support

When it comes to the military audience, actions speak much louder than words. It’s one thing to say that you support the military, but it’s another entirely to showcase real stories from WWII veterans. According to a recent study, 94% of the military audience say they have a positive impression of brands that they notice supporting the military. 

This campaign invested in learning about their audience — and it shows. World of Tanks Console demonstrated its connection to the military in an authentic, engaging way by incorporating real stories that align with a product that’s highly recognizable and appealing to the military audience. And to tell that this message resonated, all you have to do is look at the high engagement in the comments section, like this comment, “My great uncle was in World War Two. Very proud to say I have a relative who fought for this country and the freedoms I have today. Countless thanks to all those who are still with us and not with us for the ultimate sacrifice. You are not forgotten.”

Are you looking to deliver your brand or agency’s message to the military audience? With targeted media placements and omnichannel solutions, we can guarantee effective military advertising campaigns just like this one — every time. 

Haley Johnson

As a strategic content marketer, Haley Johnson's mission is to create valuable, trustworthy branded content that drives traffic, increases brand awareness, and lands leads. A Westmont College graduate, Haley has been working in the digital marketing space for over 3 years.