USO Holidays & USS Christmas: USO and Crown Media
Covid-19 kept consumers at home, leading to a significant increase in at-home media consumption. As consumers prepared for even more time indoors during the final months of the year, the industry also prepared to dish out more seasonal content than in past years – creating more and newer forms of competition for an already crowded market for holiday content.
Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries sought a strategic partner with which to collaborate authentically to help expand their reach and increase viewership for the network’s holiday programming, and specifically its new military-themed original movies premiering during the holiday season.
Meanwhile, the USO was busy adapting its global operations in response to the pandemic – ranging from brick-and-mortar centers to airport locations to mobile USO fleets. The USO also had to reimagine one of its most traditional and iconic offerings – in-person entertainment tours and created USO Military Virtual Programming (MVP) to provide uplifting content to the global military community. In addition to working diligently to ensure that mission delivery was not jeopardized due to COVID-19, the USO also faced a new challenge in a mission-critical area – fundraising – and knew that any 2020 partnership needed to be optimized for impact.
Very quickly within the first meeting, the USO and Crown Media teams realized the valuable potential for collaboration given the shared focus and purpose of providing moments of connection around home and family. The end-of-year holiday timing was also key to both brands and created the perfect opportunity to partner on a campaign that would reach and support the military community and encourage consumers to support the USO’s important mission during the holidays.
The Crown Media team shared that one of their 2020 holiday original movies (USS Christmas) was to include the USO in the storyline and this served as a launching point for a multi-platform, strategic partnership to achieve the following:
- Bolster brand awareness across military and consumer/military supporter audiences
- Drive viewership for Hallmark’s USS Christmas and donations/lead generation efforts for the USO during its year-end giving USO Holidays campaign
- Deliver virtual entertainment and programming to military communities through USO MVP
The USO was integrated into an original Hallmark Channel military-themed holiday movie and received additional on-air exposure in the form of lower thirds and integrated the USO Holidays PSA into movie teasers/promo clips
Across co-branded marketing materials, the messaging prompted viewers to tune into the premiere of USS Christmas and highlighted the USO integration into the movie storyline.
Across all marketing channels, one of two calls-to-action was included – a direct ask for a donation or a ‘sign the card’ lead generation tactic which allowed consumers to select and send a message to be digitally shared with service members through USO locations.
The partnership included a $100,000 donation from Crown Media to the USO and a matching gift campaign via the USO’s email and direct mail channels, USO integration into Hallmark Channel’s weekday lifestyle show Home & Family, events with Hallmark channel talent and wide visibility and cross-promotion across a variety of channels from both partners.
Through this strategic partnership, the USO raised nearly $3 million through nearly 70,000 consumer donations in addition to the initial $100,000 donation from Hallmark Channel. In addition to direct donations, the ‘sign the card’ CTA resulted in 1,550 messages of support for the military and acquired 1,087 new donors.
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Saturday original holiday movie premiere “USS Christmas” was the week’s #3 most social original movie premiere on Twitter airing on broadcast or ad-supported cable, generating 15.6K Twitter Interactions.
The USS Christmas premiere airing had more than 2.6 million viewers and repeat airings through the end of the year had a total of more than 8.6 million viewers. For external and internal audiences alike, this partnership helped to bring a festive, fun and impactful close to a very challenging year.