U.S. Army Launches Creative Review

The U.S Army today issued a request for proposals for its marketing services account via a Web site that publicizes federal contract opportunities.

Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson in New York has been lead agency on the business since December 2005.

The assignment includes traditional advertising, digital and direct marketing, media planning and buying, public relations, promotions, and event and multi-cultural marketing, according to the RFP.

Sources estimated total annual revenue at $15-20 million.

The RFP did not specify a revenue total, but projected a marketing communications budget of $150 million to 160 million in the next fiscal year. The document added, however, “spending on recruiting communications will continue to be under pressure and potentially shrink as the federal government looks to tackle the deficit.”

Among the recruitment challenges that the RFP cites are the war in Afghanistan, an improved economy and “fewer influencers (parents, teachers, coaches, etc.) that are familiar with or have served in the military.” Going forward, the Army intends to keep its “Army strong” positioning and tagline, the RFP states.

Units of McCann Worldgroup handle most of the current account, save for the multi-cultural piece, which the Army defines as ads directed at African Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Pacific Americans. Those duties currently are split among several shops, including Interpublic’s Casanova Pendrill, for Hispanic market creative duties, and IPG’s IW Group, for Asian-Pacific market duties.

McCann will defend its business, an agency representative said. The shop’s contract, originally set to expire in December, may have to be extended. The next contract will begin in April and run through April 2012, with four annual options for renewal, the RFP states.

The Army’s major media spending has declined since 2006 — McCann’s first full year on the business. That year the Army spent more than $167 million in media, excluding online spending, according to Nielsen. The total spend dipped to nearly $148 million in 2007, about $129 million in 2008 and nearly $95 million in 2009, per Nielsen. In the first half of 2010, spending was just $18 million.

The RFP is due back on Sept. 24. General-market agencies that indicated interest in the account online during a pre-solicitation period included WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam and IPG’s Draftfcb, both in New York. Sources also expect the New York office of WPP’s Grey to pursue the business.