ABC Takes on Largest Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment Campaign in NYS History

Over the past several months, ABC has been ridiculously busy executing the largest volunteer firefighter recruitment campaign New York State has ever seen. We're proud to say we successfully tackled every step of the project, from performing the startup research and brainstorming initial concepts to securing the talent and directing the actual filming of the commercials and photo shoots. Basically, we put together a comprehensive statewide campaign from start to finish and we’d like to shout it from the rooftops as it was truly an awesome experience.

The details...

First off, ABC selected participants for firefighter focus groups, representing areas throughout the state and held a focus group with members of the general public, as well. Feedback from these focus groups was an enormously helpful resource for campaign development.

We then gathered at our conference table for hours on end, inhaling caffeine and bouncing ideas off one another to create 14 compelling recruitment campaign concepts, which were later whittled down to seven, and then three. The final three were then presented to a national survey for feedback and, presto change-o, the campaign was chosen.

Once the final campaign was selected, we became recruitment campaign-focused whirling dervishes, drafting script for our radio spots, whipping up billboards, interactive online banner ads, print ads, and posters, and drawing up story boards for TV commercials starring actual volunteer firefighters. On top of all of that, we were handling the logistics of scheduling two departments, thirty firefighters, several film and photo shoot locations, plus the mock car accidents, burning buildings, etc. featured in the commercials.

And that's not all. At the beginning of this whirlwind, we held a statewide casting call in order to find our TV stars, promoting it virally as well as on the FASNY website. Our casting call encouraged volunteer firefighters to share a video of themselves being very candid and explaining why they volunteer. Sifting through these excellent submissions, we were able to hand select our two very talented, very real New York State volunteer firefighters for the commercials, Jeff Burkhart and Jessie Roland-Bystrak.

We would be remiss if we neglected to give a few shout-outs for the tremendous local support we had along the way with this project. Local departments, Clay Volunteer Fire Department (especially Chief Tim Dickerson and First Deputy Chief Dan Ford) and Moyers Corner, plus Northern Onondaga Volunteer Ambulance (NOVA) gladly assisted with the commercial and accident scenes when we reached out to them, and Syracuse University allowed us to use their campus for the backdrop in one of the commercials. Thanks also go to Jerome Fire Equipment Co. for lending us some top-of-the-line fire equipment and props for our various shoots.

All in all, ABC had a blast managing the entire process from story boarding and scripting, to casting, directing and overseeing the editing of the commercials for this huge recruitment campaign. It was a supremely rewarding experience and for a great cause – boosting numbers of recruits at fire departments across the state, making communities safer from one corner to the other.

Check out the fruits of our labor: Check out our commercials on the right of this page...