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Guard Re-Ups With Incumbent

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The National Guard Bureau has retained Laughlin, Marinaccio & Owens to handle recruitment advertising for the Army and Air National Guards.

The Arlington, Va., agency, which has held the account since 1995, defended against WestWayne in Atlanta and two undisclosed shops.

Billings are $50 million over a five-year period, according to a statement issued by the NGB. The assignment includes television, radio, print and direct marketing targeting young adults aged 18-26.

"In these competitions you start from scratch, but our experience didn't hurt us," said agency president Doug Laughlin.

Major Michael Jones, chief, advertising branch for the Army National Guard, also in Arlington, said presentations weighed heavily in the review process, as did knowledge of the product.

"But [LM&O] used its experience to look forward," Jones said. "They were not complacent."

The National Guard is a unique account, according to Jones, because recruiters are responsible for recruitment, managing attrition and re-enlistment.

"You bring in the individual at 18, but by the time the soldier re-enlists, he's married and has kids. What you retain is the family," he said.

Annual recruitment is steady at 60,000, according to Jones.

"Every year LM&O has been our agency, we've made our mission," he said.

The challenge is keeping the guard relevant, said Jones, even with a surge in re-enlistments that followed the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Being so visible during this crisis has been a positive," he said, "but we want to make sure that service is a priority."

LM&O has no plans to change its ongoing campaigns. An updated version of "You can," created for the Army National Guard in 1996, broke in January with 42 new "products." Work involves print, collateral, direct mail and radio spots. TV commercials were developed in conjunction with Industrial Light & Magic in Los Angeles.

The Air National Guard's "Fuel your future" series, created last year, targets what Laughlin called a broad neutral demographic of people who have no objection to military service if it can be combined with college or a full-time job.

The 25-year-old corporate campaign, "Americans at their best," reinforces the importance of the National Guard as a key component in the total defense of the nation, said Laughlin.