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Strike Up the Bands

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J. Walter Thompson will release new television commercials for the U.S. Marine Corps Bands in November.

The work is the Atlanta shop's first advertising since it retained the ac-count in July.

Two "Origin" 60-second spots highlight the military service's dozen field bands and drum and bugle corps.

The effort is part of an initiative to promote the traveling bands and help local recruiters interest high school musicians to join the Marines.

The commercials will be available as public service announcements, but local buys will be made as needed to advertise band appearances in parades and concert halls, according to Alan Whitley, group creative director at WPP's JWT.

"The focus has to do with keeping the corps relevant to society," said Whitley. "When the bands are out and coming to your town, the Marines are no longer perceived as some far away thing."

The campaign also speaks volumes for the fewer than 1,000 Marine musicians. "These guys are recruited for their musical ability," said Whitley. "But if you're a [high school] band wimp, you're not going to be in a Marine band."

Shot in Leesburg, Va., by Steve Colby of Pogo Films in Atlanta, the commercials feature reenactments of Revolutionary War battles when the first military drummers conveyed commands to troops.

Music predominates over simple copy penned by Jeff Thompson: "This sound once moved Marines into battle. It moves people still."