We created a Valentine’s Day surprise for Armed Forces families

The challenge

SSAFA is the longest standing Armed Forces charity in the UK, providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885.

Alongside a retained press office, we provide SSAFA with campaign support at various peaks throughout the year. Acknowledging the thousands of military families living apart, often for weeks at a time, SSAFA wanted to make Valentine’s Day just that little bit less difficult this year – and that’s where we came in. With 11,000 members of the Armed Forces away from home on Valentine’s Day, we faced the challenge of bringing together separated loved ones.

As well as helping to bring people together, we also wanted to highlight the importance of SSAFA and the work it does to support the Armed Forces community.

Our approach

We know that for many people in the Armed Forces, calendar moments such as Valentine’s Day can prove to be a difficult time. Instead of focusing on the negative issue of separation and highlighting the distance between people, we focused on how to bring loved ones together.

We teamed up with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, to arrange a ‘top-secret’ music video of serving personnel singing a Valentine’s Day message to their loved ones. Men and women from squadrons and teams of all seniority levels took part in miming along to a special rendition of Bruno Mars’ hit song ‘Just the Way You Are’.

Although light-hearted, the video contained a strong message; many military families are separated not just on Valentine’s Day, but all year round, and SSAFA is there to support them.

The results

In the first days, the video had over 50,000 views.

Despite a saturated media space, we secured national coverage for SSAFA. The video element to the campaign lent itself perfectly to online, broadcast and digital platforms, and was shared live on popular ITV show Lorraine, online on Metro and across several regional broadcast outlets such as BBC South Today and BBC West Live.

We found that there was genuine positive sentiment amongst social engagement of the video, notably across SSAFA’s own social platforms and amongst members of the Armed Forces community.

This campaign not only raised awareness for military personnel, but for SSAFA’s support services, highlighting what they do day-in-day-out for over 73,000 people across the UK and abroad.