The Army’s latest recruitment ploy: boy bands

A OneRepublic concert isn’t the first place you’d expect to find the Army, which is maybe why they’re there. Waiting just for you.

The largest branch of the U.S. armed forces has taken a novel approach to recruitment: a six-episode video series shot behind scenes on the pop-rock band OneRepublic’s tour.

Through a partnership with Live Nation Entertainment, the Army launched “Tour Ops: the Tech Behind Rock on the Road,” last week. In it two captains explore the technological aspects of concert production, from stage design to lighting, logistics and the like. You know, just like soldiers do before a battle starts.

The series, which will live on as well as an Army website, is a recruitment tool aimed at prospective soldiers who may be thinking about career options post-service. With a budget of just under $1 million, it was arranged for the Army by McCann Worldgroup.

“When you think about a [concert] tour there’s a lot that goes into it from a logistics standpoint, a lot of ways to use those skills.” said Jeremy Levine, Live Nation’s senior vice president of digital sales during an interview. “We wanted to create a series showing how those skills, learned in the Army, could be translated to a music tour.”

It’s the second series created by Live Nation and a third for AT&T is on the way. Their first project supported Ford Fiesta with an “Amazing Race” style scavenger hunt where contestants drove around looking for items on artists’ riders. Winners got a Fiesta and a year supply of tickets to any Live Nation concert they wanted. Video views surpassed 8.5 million with 67 million social impressions and 256 million impressions from across their owned sites.

At first Live Nation may not seem like an obvious choice for content development but a quick check of their assets makes things clearer. The company has a lot to offer, especially to brands looking to tell stories through music: The Live Nation family of websites which attract 35 million viewers a month. They also produce concerts, operate venues and host festivals, situations that make for good storytelling. And then there’s the company’s access to talent. The company manages 200 musical acts, names like Aerosmith, Kings of Leon, Jason Aldean and others.

The content is produced through a group called Live Nation Labs, which blogs, shoots and edits video for brands and Live Nation Entertainment properties. The company has done other brand partnerships too, events-driven projects that used digital media advertisements and live streams to promote brands like Jeep, Ford, HTC and Honda.

It is a potent combination, one that allows Live Nation to play at publisher, content producer and media partner — a one stop shop, assuming your brand would benefit by being associated with music. But more than that it demonstrates how a company can turn its large monthly online audience into something more, a content development opportunity that prominent brands want to take advantage of, no agency required.

“It’s a hybrid media and content deal,” said Levine. “We’re producing the content and distributing it as well as running media to promote Army training [and] driving views.”

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