By Danna Van Brandt and Laura Lopez
In June 2020, as the whole world was struggling to adjust to life at home due to the pandemic lockdown, Colombian audiences sought ways to stay connected and active while adhering to strict stay-at-home orders. Embassy Bogota’s public affairs section developed the “Train Like a Marine” campaign in unanimity with the local detachment of Marine Security Guards (MSG) to demonstrate basic, equipment-free workout videos that anyone could follow. Aiming to build camaraderie between the Mission and local audiences and attract new embassy social media followers, the campaign became a sensation. With approximately 24 million people reached on Facebook alone—with 261 thousand comments, shares, and reactions—the six-video series was among the Department of State’s most engaging social media content during the pandemic. Combined with other content, the Mission’s followership doubled over the course of the year.
Bringing the campaign to life was no easy task. Colombia was going through the first peak of the pandemic and one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. The public affairs section’s digital team developed clear, concise scripts and storyboards so the MSG detachment could follow along while constantly communicating with the production team virtually. The series brought audiences through warm-ups, strengthening exercises, stretching, and calisthenic drills.
While this initiative began as a way to connect and help people stay active while in lockdown, Embassy Bogota learned that hitting the right topic at the right moment was key to expanding followership and the reach of policy messaging in the long run. The series reached a total of 32.1 million people across all social media platforms. Reactions included expressions of gratitude, messages of solidarity, and remembrances of people’s own military service. One viewer commented, “I only just watched the video, and I’m already tired.”
View Embassy Bogota’s “Train Like a Marine” video series here.
Danna Van Brandt is an information officer, and Laura Lopez is a social media coordinator at Embassy Bogota.