Equal Heroes: Troup Illuminates Diverse Legacies of Courage at the JFK Museum

GraphisMarch 28, 2024

In an era where creative excellence and innovative storytelling set the bar for advertising, the Chicago-based agency Troup garnered a Graphis Gold Advertising 2024 Award for their outstanding work on the JFK Presidential Library & Museum's "Service & Sacrifice" exhibition and ads. The project drew upon a rich tapestry of historical narratives and contemporary relevance, engaging audiences in a deeply resonant campaign. Troup's mission was to draw attention to this pivotal exhibit through their emotive campaign and to weave the fabric of history into the present-day discourse, making the past as compelling as the unfolding story of today. Their story about their award-winning campaign reveals their thoughtful strategy, creative ingenuity, and collaborative spirit.

By: Matt Dimmer, Art Director, Troup

Troup was honored to elevate the Service and Sacrifice exhibition for the JFK Presidential Library last summer. 

Troup is an idea-centric, purposefully driven creative agency based in Chicago. We work with our clients to solve their business problems however they come to life, whether it's a new brand or just a refresh, a new website, social media campaigns, or creating a bespoke campaign to drive traffic to an exhibit at a museum. We make it less about what silo the solution fits in and more about what is the best creative execution that will grab consumers' attention and create action. 

Given a chance to work on such a storied institution, one known for advertising excellence, was Troup's shot to showcase our collective talent and live up to the legacy of those who served and the JFK Foundation. 

The assignment was twofold: first, compel people to go see this special exhibit at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, and second, make an event that happened 80 years ago relevant to today's culture and conversation. 

The inspiration for this campaign came from two main sources. First, the curator of the museum provided us with historical relevance and photographs. She also shared the theme and narrative of the exhibition. The other inspiration came from the book Half American: The Epic Story of African-Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad by Matthew F. Delmont. In the pages of Mr. Delmont's chronicle are countless stories of black Americans wanting to fight for a country that didn't fight back for their own rights and equality. The stories lined up with the Service and Sacrifice exhibition. They inspired the entire campaign, showing each group's struggles as they faced brutal enemies in Europe and across the Pacific and unrelenting challenges at home. 

We also had the benefit of working with Chris Sadlier, not only a great friend and incredible writer but also a veteran. The insights and historical knowledge he possessed were crucial to the success of the campaign, as was the insight he brought to the powerful headlines. 

The hardest part about working on this campaign was ensuring we didn't do anyone, or any subject, an injustice. These stories are too important. We didn't want to underserve them. That's why, graphically, we used the stars and stripes of the American flag as a background. We then weaved the colors through the photography to imply that these stories are part of the American fabric of history. 

The visual technique immediately recognizes all servicemen and women as American. And that was the exhibition's intent: to give a greater voice to those whose voices have not been heard. Visually, we wanted to let the power of this photography speak, so we decided to use the red stripes of the American flag as a supporting design element, weaving them around the figures in each ad. Then we laid the headlines on top of those in white at a size that again carried our message but didn't distract from the subject matter. 

Our clients at the JFK Foundation were so pleased with the work and its impact that they tasked Troup with extending the digital and poster campaign to television. Troup produced two 15-second spots that aired on local public service stations. The posters and ads were run in popular tourist sections of the city, such as Fenway Park, the Boston Logan Airport, and the Boston Aquarium, as well as the MBTA train system and other OOH locations throughout the city. 

The turnout exceeded client expectations. It was much higher than they had expected. Attendance in the first two months of the opening hovered around 60%, greater than previous exhibits. August saw the greatest traffic increase, up to 64% comparatively. 

This was one of those opportunities that you know at the kickoff has the potential to turn into a truly powerful campaign and drive traffic to an exhibit that is a must-see. We've been lucky to continue to get lauded for its creative output.

Troup is a ten-year-old start-up. Well, twenty, actually. Over the past two decades, we met talented colleagues during our days working at agencies large and small all over the country. And we forged lasting relationships with clients who kept saying, "I just want to hire you." Well, now’s the time they can. We always knew we wanted to be a small group of hand-picked specialists. We just needed the history to get here.

Social: Instagram, Facebook, X, LinkedIn

To see more Advertising 2024 competition winners, click here.

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