The Cumberland County BRAC (base realignment and closure) Task Force has named The Republik its first agency of record. The Republik will run the Cumberland County, NC, campaign to lure US Army soldiers to the area.
Under the congressionally mandated BRAC process, the Department of Defense is closing a number of army bases and relocating soldiers. Soldiers are given a choice of which base they would like to move to. Cumberland County hopes to entice soldiers from closing bases to relocate to Fort Bragg, near the town of Fayetteville.
“Something of this nature – this level of closure and the movement of the military in this country – has never been done before,” said Robert Shaw West, CEO of The Republik.
“There’s not been an effort to attract a military tax base to cities, and now, because of the situation, these can make massive impacts on communities like Fayetteville,” West continued. “There’s a reason beyond soldiers. There’s a tax-based, taxpayer reason to support this program.”
West outlined a three-step approach for selling soldiers on the Fayetteville area. The campaign will start in January 2008 and last through the end of the BRAC program, which ceases after 2009.
“First, we’ll lead a grassroots efforts to change negative perceptions of Fayetteville, and that has to come from the people of the town,” West said. “We’ll get the stories from the people and get the soldiers to make the decision.
“Once they’ve heard about [Fayetteville], we’ll use the Internet – that’s where they’ll do their research. We’re going to use the Web to personalize the experience of Fayetteville. When they get here, we’ll close the deal with a follow-up effort, so that what they’ve heard is really their first experience in Fayetteville.”
West plans on using more traditional media in the first and third steps but has a $500,000 budget for the Internet-based recruitment portion. Viral advertising, blog seeding, banners and Web sites will all be used to draw soldiers and their families to the area.
Cumberland County officials hope that West’s campaign, which will play up Fayetteville’s long history as a military community, will attract 20,000 soldiers and their families, for a total population influx of 40,000. The growth in military presence and in the area’s tax base are both seen as potential boons.
The Republik, Durham, NC, is an employee-owned advertising agency. Other clients include Fayetteville Tourism, Community Builders, Boston, and Triumph Boats, Raleigh. Though the company has fielded proposals for similar campaigns from the US Army, Cumberland County is its only BRAC client so far.