Mailers Drum Up Support for Military Base

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Supporters of the Fort Drum military base in northern New York are depending on a mail campaign featuring CDs, DVDs and three-dimensional pieces to keep the facility off a proposed base-closure list next year.


The two-stage campaign designed by Ad Workshop, Lake Placid, NY, for the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, a group of local and regional businesses and individuals who want to keep the base intact, dropped in June.


It cost $125,000 to distribute the mailers to 300 contacts in Washington, including Pentagon officials and lawmakers who will be influential in deciding on base closures. The pieces were hand-delivered by base supporters, including the staff of New York's federal lawmakers.


During the 2005 base realignment and closure proceedings, lawmakers and the Pentagon will recommend which bases should be closed to reduce excess capacity. Fort Drum, about 30 miles south of the Canadian border in Watertown, NY, is the only military installation of its size -- more than 107,000 acres -- in the Northeast.


The first piece in the campaign was a four-color, hand-assembled dimensional mailer that "pops up" into a cube. Each of the cube's six sides illustrates one of Fort Drum's selling points as a valuable military facility.


The second piece was a steel-gray box bearing the label, "Fort Drum: Planned from the ground up, Positioned for expansion, Proven warfighters." It contained a DVD and CD-ROM, a 15-page guide to the base and a note from FDRLO chairman John W. Deans.


The CD-ROM contained technical information about Fort Drum. The DVD featured an 8 1/2-minute video of interviews with former generals who relayed stories about the base.


Deans recalled that during a previous round of base closures in 1995, the organization used VHS videos. In planning the campaign with Ad Workshop, the group learned how far interactive mail campaigns had come since then.


"We knew, as we listened to what the state of the art is, that this was the direction we wanted to go in," he said. "The feedback we've received is extremely positive."


Measuring the success of the campaign will be difficult until the next base-closure list comes out in 2005, Deans said. For now, the group is weighing feedback from recipients.


The message of the mailers is positive, eschewing arguments against closing Fort Drum. Instead, it focuses on aspects of what Fort Drum offers the military and cites areas in which the base could be expanded.


"It's dispelling the myth that Fort Drum is just a cold-weather installation," said David Trampey, creative director-interactive for Ad Workshop. "It's using fixed strategic points to show that Fort Drum is an essential installation to the U.S. military."


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