Veterans never get the recognition or credit they deserve.
Men and women who put their lives on the line for their country often return home and become unseen and often unappreciated for the sacrifices they and their families have made to protect our freedoms.
For years Walmart has supported Veterans through multiple initiatives including the Veterans Welcome Home Commitment program, where they have hired over 250,000 eligible veterans.
START BY ASKING THE BIG QUESTION
When I led the Creative team at Walmart in 2014 I remember brainstorming with our team and agency partner, asking “What is the biggest problem we need to help solve with Veterans?”
From that discussion, we knew the problem was that veterans had become “invisible” and we needed to let them know we saw them. The big idea that emerged started as a question:
“What if we could start a movement for every household in America to change out a porch light to a green bulb for Veteran’s Day, November 11th?”
That’s when the movement Green Light a Vet was born. With a clear call to action and a compelling story, I was sure it would be a slam dunk. But we had our work cut out for us.
Even with a compelling idea and solid plan, launching a big quest within a corporate environment has its own share of challenges.
We knew we were up against several obstacles to overcome:
- Would the community participate or would it fall flat?
- How would this idea stack up against other proven campaign approaches in terms of ROI?
- Is this something that the CEO wanted to tackle at this level without a proven business case?
Here’s how we overcame those obstacles and launched our bigQUEST.
MOTIVATE THE TEAM TO DO SOMETHING BIG
The first step was to secure the approval of the CEO. To prepare for that pitch, it took the leadership of our CMO at the time, Stephen Quinn. He is a bold leader, unafraid to sponsor big ideas. Stephen and his team rehearsed the pitch, where each of us had a role to play: we were all responsible for bringing the big idea to life, communicating clearly how we would pull this off, and address the big barriers we knew we had to overcome.
I remember the pitch to our CEO, Greg Foran, like it was yesterday.
Crowded in a small windowless conference room, we shared our idea, then played an emotional but engaging 60-second spot, and then held our breath for a response. While I can’t say for certain, we were all pretty convinced there was actually a tear in Greg’s eye.
He was fully on board.
From that moment, momentum began to build and loads of people across the home office wanted to be involved. At breakneck speed (did I mention that we pitched this in August for a November 11 launch?), everyone pulled together — from merchants to suppliers to our agency partners — and we launched not just a campaign, but something that became a movement for years to come.
A BIG QUEST NEEDS RIGHT BRAIN METHODS
Even within big companies, bigQUESTs can be launched. The secret to these kinds of campaigns is three-fold:
Use a simple-to-understand visual value proposition.
Recruit and involve a many different people to co-create and participate.
Unite the team to maintain the vision of a meaningful outcome.
Starting with great people who ask compelling questions, a bigQUEST can be launched in any environment. And when a team takes on a bigQuest together and sees it land in the marketplace, it becomes part of an indelible memory for everyone involved.
I recently caught up with Tom Hoehn who was the Senior Director of Digital/Social Marketing at the time of the Green Light A Vet campaign. To this day, he considers that project one of his greatest career memories to-date. In the clip below, Tom reflects on the importance of mindset when launching a Quest:
Learn more about starting a bigQUEST of your own by downloading our 5 Questions Checklist.
Wherever you’re headed in your Quest, happy adventuring!
Share your experience. Drop a comment and let me know how you’ve launched a Quest of your own.