McCann, Army Tout ‘Strength’

NEW YORK The latest campaign for the U.S. Army focuses on the desire of potential recruits to gain personal strength, both physical and otherwise, or as the new tagline puts it, to learn how to be “Army strong.”

The campaign, debuting Nov. 9, is the first work done for the client by Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson since the agency won the $200 million account last December [Adweek Online, Dec. 7]. The business was previously held by Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett.

A video presenting the new campaign opens with the Webster Dictionary definition of “strong,” adding, “But with all due respect to Webster, there’s strong, and then there’s Army strong.”

The footage in the video suggests the Army will not shy away from images of Iraq and actual warfare. Soldiers are shown marching through deserts and training in harsh environments.

“The whole idea really embodies the spirit of the U.S. Army soldiers, how they feel about the Army and what people who are considering joining the Army want from that experience,” said Eric Keshin, COO of McCann’s immediate parent, McCann Worldgroup.

The previous tagline, “Army of one,” which sought to empower individuals and counter fears of military conformity among young people, is not part of the new campaign. That line had caused consternation among some soldiers who felt its theme of individuality contradicted their training. The Army was also criticized for not explaining the effort to soldiers before bringing it to the public.

In a statement, the Army said it would spend the next month introducing current soldiers to the new positioning: “The campaign is inspired by every U.S. Army Soldier—past, present and future, active duty, Army Reserve and National Guard, enlisted and officer.”

Recruitment has lagged in recent years, a fact often attributed to the rise in military operations overseas following Sept. 11, 2001. The Army had set an active recruiting goal of 80,000 for fiscal year 2006, which began in October. Its reserve recruit goal for 2006 was 25,500. The Army this week said it has met those goals. (For 2005, the Army missed its goal of 80,000 by 6,627. It fell short of its reserve recruit goal by 4,626.)