Taking aim at the military mindset

MilitaryadHow do you advertise a killing machine without sounding scandalously callous? At Interpublic’s TM Advertising, it’s sometimes a close call, says art director Stephen Lohr. Four years ago, Lohr and company created a print ad that showed one of client Bell Helicopter’s AH1Z attack helicopters rising from a flaming background, armed to the teeth with missiles aimed directly at the viewer.  The headline, supplied by a TM copywriter, read: “We made it beautiful because it’s the last thing some people will ever see.”  To the civilian world that text might not fly, Lohr acknowledges.  But “to the military mindset, it allows the message to be sent without being harsh or abrasive.”  But when it came to the recent effort to relaunch Discovery Channel’s Military Channel (it had been called the Wings Channel), war is positioned as the ultimate reality show.  One ad from that effort, created by Omnicom’s GSD&M, shows a cockpit-eye view of fighter jets flying in formation under the headline:  “Less about who’s sleeping with whom and more about who’s covering your butt.” Meanwhile, agencies might want to put on their thinking caps for robotic warriors that are the subject of military research today. Actually, TM’s headline for the reconnaissance helicopter might work: “I seek out the target, I destroy the target without ever becoming the target.”

—Posted by Richard Williamson