VLB: Celebrity Ad Campaigns

Following a marketing study that showed the Veterans Land Board had high positive marks, but low top-of-mind status amongst their target veteran population, Mark was tasked by agency leadership to rebrand the almost 50-year old agency.  In addition to creating a new logo, Mark created several new statewide advertising campaigns using recognizable veterans across a broad spectrum of media including TV, radio, print, web and social media.  

The first ad campaign featured iconic Marine Gunnery Sergeant-turned-actor R. Lee Ermey, or “Gunny.”  A fixture in popular culture, Gunny has appeared in dozens of movies, TV shows and commercials, but perhaps remains best known for his breakthrough role in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.  The ad campaign used Gunny’s fearsome, but familiar, drill sergeant countenance and voice to deliver our key message about VLB benefits through a statewide TV and radio buy, on social media and highway billboards.  The ad was shot at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

Radio and television broadcast advertisements reached approximately 4.5 million adults age 18 and older. Billboards designed for the outdoor portion of the campaign made nearly 20 million impressions. Digital elements of the campaign included mobile display ads, desktop display ads and emails, which yielded a total of 24 million impressions and drove 18,588 clicks to the VLB website and landing pages.

In 2014, Mark also created a campaign featuring Texan and former Marine Barry Corbin, a popular character actor most famous for the Northern Exposure and Lonesome Dove TV shows.  This ad campaign took a softer approach, maximizing Corbin’s grandfatherly appeal.  Mark envisioned Barry walking down a country road to illustrate the ad’s focus on veteran land purchases. 


The Gunny ad almost didn’t happen – a torrential downpour the day before the shoot threatened gray skies and bad lighting.  But the day of the shoot, the sky miraculously cleared, making for a beautiful day to make an ad.

During the Barry Corbin shoot, it was a cold January day and Barry needed a team of “ear warmers” that would hold warm scarves over his ears between takes!