History’s Star-Studded Tribute to Vets Launches Memorial Day

With a long tradition of honoring the military, History is launching a campaign to recognize veterans that features public service announcements with big stars over Memorial Day weekend.

Public service announcements feature Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Bacon, Olivia Munn, Russell Wilson, Ciara, Toby Keith, Simone Biles, Bill Goldberg and Tom Selleck.

The start of the campaign coincides with the season 2 premiere of Six, a Special Forces drama created by former military personnel. Munn is one of the stars of Six.

History is also working with a number of veterans’ organizations including Flags and Flowers, started by 12-year-old California student Patrick Sharp, which places flowers and flags on the graves of servicemen.

The first spot cuts from star to star as they deliver their message. “Our military veterans fought to protect our rights liberties and freedom. Let’s all thank our veterans, along with our active military men and women, by honoring their patriotism, their service and their many contributions to our country. Because whether we are athletes, musicians, gymnasts wrestlers, actors, veterans, we all support these heroes. We salute you and we thank you,” the spot says.

The spot ends with a call to action: “Get Involved Now, Go to Veterans.com.” Veterans.com is a website owned by History that features information about veterans, about the series Six, and links to several groups dedicated to helping veterans and military families.

“Honoring our veterans, active military and their families has been a cornerstone of History since we launched in 1995,” said Paul Buccieri, president A+E Studios and A+E Networks Portfolio Group. “We are proud to support and highlight the extraordinary contributions of veterans and military families through our programming and our outreach initiatives, not just on holidays, but every day.”

The campaign is expected to run year round, with ads airing on History and the other networks owned by A+E, as well as its digital platforms.

In addition to the celebrity studded PSA, History was able to shoot spots when it hosted a Flags and Flowers event with Sharp at Los Angeles National Cemetery on May 18 that featured the cast of Six including Barry Sloane, Kyle Schmid, Juan Pablo Raba, Dominic Adams, Jaylen Moore and Nikolai Nikolaeff.

History couldn’t provide a value for the airtime it would use to air the PSAs. The company also backs veterans groups, including TAPS, Team Rubicon, The Mission Continues, Headstrong, America’s VetDogs, but it views its main contribution as helping to raise visibility for veterans programs.

“It’s amazing to me that unless you’re a military family how you can almost forget there are people in harm’s way on behalf of this country and doing what they’re asked to do,” said Arturo Interian, senior VP for scripted series at History.

“So just as a reminder, there’s guys in Syria, there’s guys in Afghanistan, there are men and women in Iraq who are fighting a fight that we’ve asked them to fight. Their families are sacrificing. Just be aware and thank them and be aware of the past generations that have served and done what they’ve been called to do,” Interian said.

History worked hard to get the high-profile stars to speak out for veterans. Some have been involved in veterans’ projects before. Others have family connections to the military.

“It’s amazing the cross section of entertainment and athletics and music that has come out to support this,” said Kim Gilmore, senior historian and director of corporate outreach at History.

“One of the other messages that’s important to us is the idea that we know there are a lot of divisions in our country politically on all the different levels, but this is something that should unite us,” Gilmore said. “No matter what we think about the different conflicts, we should be able to unite around support for veterans and military families.”

Interian says he comes from a military family and that working on this campaign is one of the things he’s proudest of while working at History.

“My dad was in the Army. My great-uncle was in Vietnam, my grandfather and my great uncles all fought in World War II, so when you take the time to honor and remember both living and past, it’s a big deal to me and it’s one of the highest callings you can be called on to do in this country,” he said.

“So yes, we run military documentaries, we run military shows and that’s great, but these are very important groups doing a lot of good work that we’re partnered with. I’m very proud of that.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.