USAF Effort Soars ‘Above All’

LOS ANGELES The new campaign for the U.S. Air Force breaking today stresses the service branch as a technological cutting edge of national defense, taking an oblique approach to recruiting.

The work is through Omnicom’s GSD&M Idea City, Austin, Texas, and advances the tagline from “Cross into the blue” to “Above all,” the first such change since 2001.

Print ads deconstruct daily news with fictional items topped by generic headlines and links such as “An Article About Terrorist Threats,” “A Look at the Growing Military of Other Countries” and “An Article About a Cyber Attack Causing a Blackout.” The line at the bottom of the banner or page: “We can’t predict the headlines. We can be ready for them.”

Another banner shows the Pentagon with the copy, “This building will be attacked 3,000,000 times today. Who’s going to protect it?” An animated Air Force wings logo glistens with light reflections, and more copy appears, “Air Force technology defends America in a changing world,” as well as a button that takes users to an Air Force Web site. In some executions the logo shakes as if rattled by a flyover.

Other banner ads dedicated to particular aircraft such as the B-1 Lancer include video demonstration modules that come alive when activated by a mouse. “We don’t want everything to have airplanes in it,” said Tom Gilmore, group creative director at GSD&M. “That’s what they already know of us. At the same time, we don’t want to lose the glamour of the Air Force.”

The first of three 30-second spots, triangulating three major missions of the Air Force, emphasize new fields in the service, such as the “cyber command.”

An upcoming spot will focus on air power. It shows scenes from around the globe and narrative that says when a crisis occurs, the Air Force can respond at “twice the speed of sound.” The spot will emphasize the service as “the long arm of national defense,” said Gilmore.

A third spot focuses on the USAF role in aerospace and pictures the launching of space assets from Vandenberg and Patrick Air Force Bases. Copy indicates Air Force dominance of those domains, and implies it is where future wars will be fought.

Eric Saarinen of TWC, Santa Monica, Calif., directed the effort.

“The campaign is inspirational, descriptive, but big minded,” said Gilmore. “It’s very lofty as well as practical.”
Lee Pitz, vp, account director, said “the new approach is still about recruiting, but contains a bigger message for a broader audience: the Air Force has a great story to tell.”

In recent years, the USAF spent $30 million annually in measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.