A Sheffield firm chosen as the official digital marketing agency for an international campaign that “recognised the needs” of athletes suffering post-traumatic stress (PTS) during this year’s Invictus Games has welcomed the news the city is to host the Games Trials in 2019.
Managing director Johnny Pawlik flew out to Australia to join travelling military “Lightning Bolt II Invictus Convoy” after Mantra Media was chosen as the official marketing agency for the international campaign, on its schedule of live events including awareness days, civic receptions, and memorial ceremonies, culminating in the Invictus Games.
The Sheffield city centre-based business handled all the digital marketing for the major #StandTall4PTS event, including social media and live 24-7 streaming via website and Facebook, reaching more than a million people combined during the three-week tour.
Johnny, who was joined on the tour by his brother and Mantra’s technology director Jason, said: “Creating this campaign and seeing the response – we spoke to hundreds of people every day online and in person – demonstrated the need for support for those suffering from PTS.
“At times this was hard, and you had to be very emotionally resilient, but it was very rewarding. People told us the #StandTall4PTS campaign recognised their pain and let them know that they matter.
“Speaking with the Invictus athletes, they told me about their journeys, and the impact that the Games have had on their self-esteem and quality of life so I’m very pleased to hear Sheffield has been chosen as the host city for the first-ever national Invictus Games trials in July 2019.”
#StandTall4PTS was founded by Vietnam veteran and former Australian cricketer, Tony Dell, in 2011 after his own PTS diagnosis decades after he returned from the war.
The Lightning Bolt II Invictus Convoy event officially launched in Australia with a PTS Awareness Day in Toowong featuring a display of military and first responder vehicles, and culminated in the Invictus Games.
In between, the convoy travelled through four Australian states and territories and 17 towns and cities including Canberra and Melbourne. The team also carried a large Invictus Games flag to collect signatures and messages from MPs and celebrities along the way before presenting it to Invictus competitors on the final leg of the convoy in Sydney.
Johnny said: “The campaign was a really personal one for me. My grandfather served in the army, including five tours in Northern Ireland. PTS wasn’t really recognised then, but it affected every part of his life after he left the forces.
“My father was in the RAF in the 80s and fared a little better, but he also became a victim of PTS and faced challenges as a result.
“Taking part in the campaign made me realise the UK can learn a lot about ways to improve veterans’ quality of lives, especially when we spent time in the RSLs (The Returned and Services League) which are complexes devoted to social engagement of those that have served.
“They’re family-orientated spaces with restaurants, bars, live music, arcades – all in celebration for the work done by the forces and to prevent them from becoming detached from society. It was obvious how much this reduces the alienation that those who serve feel when they come out. Just imagine if these places existed in the UK?
“While touring Australia it became apparent that there is support, recognition, and care for what people go through when they’re in the services, something that often seems missing from our society.
“I’m really encouraged by the news that Sheffield will host the first ever national games for British wounded, injured and sick veterans and personnel next July, as I‘ve seen for myself in Australia this year the power of sport, teamwork and competition to help aid recovery.”
Mantra Media was set up by Johnny with business partner Masatsugu Kuno, who runs the Japanese offices, in 2015. The firm works with clientele in five continents from North America and Europe to South Africa and Southeast Asia, delivering digital marketing for businesses, charities and third sector organisations across the globe.