Bank of America
United States of America
Bank of America
Bank of America
Financial & Utility Services
To increase goodwill among Millennials towards Bank of America’s corporate responsibility efforts, charitable giving, and sponsorship of Ken Burns’ documentary, “The Vietnam War”, we needed to make the story relevant to their lives today and engage them with this past era from before they were even alive.
There is no single truth in war.
Every side and everyone affected, military and civilian, experience war differently and each has their own truths and stories to share. Only by learning about ALL sides and experiences can we gain understanding and try to prevent similar conflicts from ever happening again.
For 10 years, Bank of America, America’s second largest bank, has supported the work of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and PBS (America’s public broadcasting system) through underwriting and sponsorship. This partnership is one articulation of the bank’s commitment to responsible growth. The corporation and employees participate in a number of causes and social responsibility efforts, including donating nearly $200 million in 2017 to organizations whose values are important to our customers.
In 2017, Burns was set to release his newest documentary, “The Vietnam War,” on PBS stations across America with a goal to promote deeper understanding and healing. The problem was younger Americans who weren’t alive 50 years ago didn’t have a personal connection to the Vietnam War era and their interest in the documentary was low.
To deepen Millennials understanding of the war, our task was to get them to engage with the series and elicit goodwill for the bank’s sponsorship of the film. To engage a younger audience, our inspiration was a defining force from the era that resonates today: Music.
With music as our time machine, our strategy was to bring understanding of history into today through an idea that we called “Echoes of Vietnam.”
Through exploring music and stories from the past brought into today with top artists covering six historic songs, the bank brought deeper understanding of the war by inviting people to experience it as artistic expression. As the documentary series explored stories of the conflict from all perspectives, including American soldiers and protesters, North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese soldiers and citizens, the Viet Cong, government officials, and more, our approach worked in parallel to appeal to a younger audience.
Throughout the documentary’s release, eight of today’s top musical acts took Millennials on a journey to the past to experience Vietnam War sentiment and perspectives for themselves through song. The Lumineers with Andrew Bird reimagined Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” John Legend recorded his version of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.” Dan Auerbach covered “We Gotta Get Out of this Place” by The Animals. A trio of Leon Bridges, Gary Clark, Jr. and Jon Batiste made their version of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Ohio.” Joseph recreated The Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreamin’” and Brett Young redid The Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.”
Too young to have experienced the war first-hand and the original releases of these tracks that were anthems 50 years ago for Baby Boomers, the musicians shared their artist statements and perspectives about their reimagined covers in context of the era to deepen understanding among Millennials, alongside announcing donations to charities of their choice funded by the bank.
We tapped into the listening behaviors that define today’s music media model to broaden people’s understanding of the war and through audio, video, and the power of digital and social media to create dialogue, listeners were taken on a historical journey made relevant to today through song with Spotify.
Throughout the documentary’s airing on PBS, we released the current musicians’ reimagined songs, and for three artists we captured and shared their perspectives in videos. The musical artists also announced donations funded by the bank to causes of their choice in their videos, including the USO, National Urban League, The Leadership Conference and FREEAMERICA, providing support for veterans, the advancement of civil and human rights and resources for the formerly incarcerated.
An Echoes of Vietnam page on Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War website within PBS shared the songs juxtaposed directly with the originals and directed people to Spotify. There we provided additional content and an Echoes of Vietnam multi-media playlist of the covers, originals and other iconic songs of the time.
Our trailer video and additional content were shared across Spotify’s platform, and digital and social media explained the purpose of the covers and content: To deepen understanding through perspective, aligning with the film and Bank of America’s objectives. Along the way, we encouraged listeners and viewers to watch the series on PBS to gain deeper understanding of the conflict and its impacts.
Lead Media Agency
Hill Holliday, Burson-Marsteller, Octagon/Frukt