Operation Never Forgotten
Supporting the Troops through Digital Billboards
Most have seen the yellow or camo "Support Our Troops" ribbon stuck to a car in remembrance of a loved one sent overseas. But has everyone seen the digital billboards across the nation with messages honoring the country's service men and women?
Now these message centers, commonly used for advertising and commerce, display images reminding us of their sacrifice and their families. The non-profit organization Operation Never Forgotten (ONF) created this concept when one supporter, Linda Kelly, president of ONF, wanted to create public awareness being a blue star mom and wife herself.
Originally, the ONF movement began in Times Square on Clear Channel's Spectacolor digital display during the famous New York Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2007. Then, advertising companies such as Adams Outdoor, Clear Channel, Lamar, Magic Media, Jones Sign and Newman continued the movement providing digital Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for messages like, "Real American Idol" and "Come Home Safe."
ONF's nationwide campaigns range from general billboards, to more specific campaigns such as "Gold Star Family" billboards which keep memories alive for each fallen hero, "Individual Wounded Warriors" billboards which recognize individual soldiers who were wounded, and other billboards for organizations such as Snowball Express which honor the children of our fallen heroes. ONF has also created "Homecoming" billboards to welcome specific units home from deployment, such as the recent campaign broadcasted by Adams Outdoor, Lamar, and Clear Channel in Chicago, Madison, and Des Moines for the returning 2/24 Marines.
With digital billboards, the public can view not just one of the several inspirational PSAs expressing respect for the troops, but several messages on a rotation throughout the day. And because digital billboards offer more rotations on the same billboard, families have more chances to honor their family members who have served in the line of duty. One company in particular, Adams Outdoor Advertising, uses Daktronics' display management service, VisiconnSM, to schedule PSAs like Operation Never Forgotten on their ValoTM billboards. Sarah Mette, the market scheduler of the Adams Outdoor Wisconsin office, said that they "schedule every fifth ‘flip' for a PSA, and families in the Madison area see the boards and appreciate the effort."
In fact, Channel 3 News of Madison, Wisconsin, ran a lead story about Adams Outdoor digital billboards highlighting Blue and Gold Star mothers. Adams Outdoor Advertising in Madison was the first to premier these messages on Independence Day 2008. Other Adams markets continued running ONF campaigns, keeping those who served in the forefront of the viewers' minds.
With a story behind every picture from Times Square to Los Angeles, it makes it hard to miss the messages presented on each board thanks to Operation Never Forgotten and several national billboard companies.