The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!
From the 2nd Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

The Peace Corps: Do The Unexpected

Finalist in Developing Nations


The Peace Corps was established in 1961 to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

The Peace Corps is defined by its Volunteers – they embody the Peace Corps and represent America in developing nations, often in small, remote communities. The Volunteers are the Peace Corps. Recruiting Volunteers who can navigate the challenges and opportunities Peace Corps service entails is essential for the future of the agency.

Ogilvy worked with the Peace Corps to develop the "Do the Unexpected" campaign to:

Strategy and Execution

Through extensive research, Ogilvy and the Peace Corps discovered that Peace Corps' Millennial audience wants to make a hands-on contribution to the world. They want a truly immersive experience to connect with people and share cultures. Yet when multicultural Millennial males considered the two-year commitment the Peace Corps demands, the fear of missing out kept them from applying. They were concerned about deviating from a traditional career path. To convert these fears into opportunities, Ogilvy designed a campaign that encouraged potential Volunteers to "Do the Unexpected"; to challenge the norm and leverage their desire to do something greater, with the Peace Corps as their partner.

Ogilvy created a multifaceted, integrated campaign with content that directly responded to the fears and motivations of our audience, including:

A video ad that pokes fun at everyday moments that many multicultural Millennials can relate to. We use humor in an unexpected way to portray the Peace Corps in an entirely new light, and positioned the Peace Corps as an exciting next step in their future. This hero piece captured our audience's attention and piqued their interest to learn more.

A paid mobile media campaign to amplify our content and reach our audience where they were to drive interest, and, ultimately, applications. The mobile campaign targeted users where they were already curating digital information through Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google Search, and YouTube ads.

A content partnership with BuzzFeed to publish articles appealing to multicultural males' motivations, including:

A content hub, the "Real Life Guide", which houses all the information our audience might need when considering whether to apply for the Peace Corps:

The hub served as a landing page for the campaign and ensured its longevity; providing all the information potential applicants craved when contemplating applying to the Peace Corps.

The work was designed intentionally to mitigate and break down barriers to service, demonstrate the shared values of the Peace Corps and this demographic, and compel candidates to act on their desire to serve.


Our campaign resulted in an impressive 13% increase in applications for multicultural Millennial males, exceeding the campaign goal of 10%. During the six months of the campaign, 9,000 users were driven to the application page.

Our content strongly resonated with our target audience: 264,000 potential applicants visited our "Real Life Guide" content hub.

Our video ad successfully increased brand awareness and favorability, resulting in a 12% lift in favorability for the brand, 53% lift in ad recall after viewing the video ad, and viewers were 805% more likely to search for the Peace Corps on Google.

Throughout the campaign, we constantly tested different targeting and creative in order to make the campaign more powerful. We tweaked messaging and creative for specific target groups, and continuously adjusted budget allocations to the tactics that were driving the most applications. Through this process, we gained valuable insight into the best creative and messaging approaches for reaching various segments of our audience, which we will leverage for future campaigns.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

The Peace Corps, Ogilvy, Squint/Clyde Brothers LLC


Entry Credits