The Navy and the Marines join forces for a campaign with Madison Avenue

May 31, 2002 | By Allison North Jones

For two centuries the United States Navy and the Marine Corps have worked as a joint fighting force, but despite their long history they have always advertised separately—until now. Since February the Pentagon has been promoting the Navy and Marine Corps together in television and print advertisements to imprint the “Power of Teamwork” on a more patriotic America united by the Sept. 11 attacks.

This year, after the military campaign in Afghanistan began, five top officers from the Navy and five from the Marine Corps began meeting to discuss issues facing both services. At one meeting, they decided that it was important to communicate to civilians and military personnel that the two services were working together, conducting joint operations. “We were talking about how important it was that our own people inside the Navy and Marines itself and the public, too, knew how closely we were operating,” said Adm. Vern Clark, chief of naval operations.

Since Sept. 11, newscasts have often showed individual military services conducting operations in Afghanistan but rarely linked the services. The Navy and Marine Corps decided that if they were working together they should be advertising together.

“Our military today is all about jointness,” Admiral Clark said. “None of us can do our job by ourselves; the Navy and Marine Corps are especially and inherently linked together.” The Marine Corps is a branch of the armed forces under the authority of the secretary of the Navy.

The Navy and Marines wanted advertisements that would run seamlessly from nightly news reports, Adm. Stephen Pietropaoli, the Navy’s chief spokesman, said.

Working with J. Walter Thompson, which is a part of the WPP Group, the two departments created the “Power of Teamwork” advertisements. The ads capitalized on what nightly newscasts were showing and developed the new recruiting campaign that the leadership sought.

Military advertising has traditionally been geared to recruiting for each individual branch of service. This campaign is intended to promote “the idea of being part of a great team that can do things, the idea of duty and loyalty and being part of something that advances great things,” said William Strauss, a consultant working with the Marine Corps. He and a fellow consultant, Neil Howe, have helped the Marines evaluate recruiting demographics.

At the same time the new advertisements are running, the two services continue to advertise individually. The Marine Corps recently revamped its campaign to appeal to a new generation of recruits who find “being associated with part of a team, a higher cause,” a more appealing idea than previous generations, said Brig. Gen. Andrew B. Davis, a Marine Corps spokesman.

The print advertisements first appeared as full pages in newspapers and magazines in February. In The Washington Post and USA Today, a picture of a Naval carrier ran above a picture of marines pointing rifles in the desert with the text: “How 97,000 tons of sea power, becomes 1,245 pounds of firepower.”

The television spots include images of Navy fighters and Marines in combat missions and Marine planes being launched off aircraft carriers. The commercials had their debut in April and will run through December in various markets.

The two departments spent $60,000 to produce the television commercials and $150,000 to place them. They spent $600,000 to $700,000 for the print advertisements. The total was less than 0.5 percent of their combined $130 million advertising budgets.

The small expenditure is expected to have a big effect. “We think that its going to have an impact beyond the recruiting,” General Davis said.

Senior officers said they wanted the advertisements to communicate to potential recruits and “influencers”—those already in the military who influence the public perception of the military—that this unique team existed.

“We are targeting individuals about living and committing themselves to service,” Admiral Clark said. But noting that advertisements will reach other audiences he said, “A message that I want all of America to know about is that the Navy and Marine Corps are a team.”

The advertisements also achieved the leadership’s goal of seamlessness. On CNN last week a promotion for the news network said it “covered the globe.” Immediately after the promotion the Navy/Marine Corps advertisement flashed across the screen, showing how the military was “covering the globe,” Admiral Pietropaoli said.

Admiral Clark said the theme helped to define the new emphasis for American military power, a more cohesive, self-sustaining military with the services working together in regional conflicts, as in Afghanistan. “This is the way that we are moving,” he said. “This evolved out of where we are going into the future.”

The campaign was still being developed during the military’s campaign in Afghanistan so the ads did not start running until the heaviest operations in Afghanistan ended. Despite missing the height of the action in Afghanistan, officials said the brand had been established.

“We know something else is going to happen,” General Davis said.

Admiral Pietropaoli added, “Right, there’s not a doubt in our mind that we will be able to put this concept into play again.”


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