The Guard awarded the NCSA to Laurel, MD-based ad agency LMD. Each state broadcaster association negotiated individually with LMD, which now has a subcontractor relationship with all 50 associations. The federal grant was secured through a public process and followed an RFP issued by the Guard. The money each association receives varies from state to state, with some of it used to pay ad agency fees.
The agreement, which helps provide financial stability to state broadcaster associations, marks a return to radio and TV for the Guard, which pressed pause on its longstanding relationship with the associations in 2014. That means that since then, such groups as the Georgia Association of Broadcasters and the Michigan Association of Broadcasters have had to operate with no funding from the Guard.
Radio stations in the 85 markets tracked by Media Monitors aired 8,039 spots for the Guard during the week of Nov. 20-26, making it radio’s No. 51 advertiser.
The Guard has historically relied on voluntary airtime donated by local radio and TV stations to recruit new members. “The nature of the contract is that stations voluntarily provide run-of-schedule timeslots to the state broadcasters,” says Dave Donovan, president of the New York State Broadcasters Association (NYSBA). “State broadcasters take the ads that are produced by the Guard and distribute them to their members. There’s no hard contract with the stations.”
The agreement isn’t structured like a typical time buy where the client gets a prescribed number of spots that run in specified dayparts on certain stations. Rather, the state associations aggregate airtime from participating stations. When the spots air is up to the individual participating stations.
“We send them to the radio and television stations and ask them to run the spots as best they can,” says Vance Harrison, president of the Oklahoma State Broadcasters Association and head of the National Alliance of State Broadcasters, a loose confederation of state associations. “They run them pro-bono whenever they can and how they want to run them.” Of the roughly 150 and 22 television stations that are members of the Oklahoma State Broadcasters Association, Harrison estimates “well over two-thirds run some of our NCSA program spots.”
Adds Harrison, “The Guard sees not only the reach but also the impact that a local radio and local TV station have.”
While the Guard spots are uniform throughout the country, some state associations, including New York, provide additional support such as helping promote Guard activities and securing time for Guard reps on talk shows.
“This is more than just your average commercial client,” Donovan says. “The National Guard is vitally important, not only for national defense but also during emergencies. These men and women are protecting our freedom and keeping us safe. There is an overall public interest aspect to this that transcends a commercial relationship.”
From the Guard’s point of view, local stations that air its messages are a vital in helping meet recruitment goals. “We understand that of all the things Guardsmen do throughout the communities, that without station owners playing our advertisements and covering our stories people do not readily hear about our efforts,” Rauschenberg says. “By continued exposure of our brand through donated airtime, state broadcaster associations help communicate our message to those young people that are ready to answer the call to serve in the Army National Guard.”