U.S. Navy Cancels Sexist Campbell Ewald Mailers About ‘Staying in Touch With Your Feminine Side’

By Patrick Coffee 

Campbell Ewald lost the U.S. Navy contract to Y&R almost a year ago, but even former clients seem to continue bringing the agency bad publicity.

Late yesterday, the Associated Press reported that the Navy had agreed to cancel a series of recruitment mailers that Campbell Ewald first created five years ago and subsequently “launched a review of all their mailer templates.”

Seems that quite a few people asked the AP to look into the matter due to blatant sexism in the messaging. Here’s a close-up, image via Scott Bauer/Associated Press:


navy closeup

As you’ll note, the message is specifically targeting women: “You see, there’s a place for forward-thinking women in America’s Navy.”

By joining the Navy, said women may “[take] on the kind of exciting, hands-on work that most girls aren’t even aware of,” presumably because those girls had no idea that the United States operates the world’s largest military.

It keeps going and tries to sort-of downplay its own stereotypes with sentences like: “Making your mark in career areas that certainly aren’t just for the guys …. while staying in touch with your feminine side — and while bettering your world along the way.”

Navy spokesperson and Lt. Commander Nate Christensen told the AP that the organization–which is 18 percent female, by the way–can’t be judged by this condescending bullshit: “Women have shown great courage and sacrifice — we simply could not accomplish the mission without them.”

More than 200,000 people have received the mailer since C-E first created it, but it won’t be going out any more. The Navy told AP that it will review all related recruiting efforts in order to better reflect its inclusive messaging.

This isn’t the only time Campbell Ewald’s work for the client led to trouble: in January, the Supreme Court ruled against the agency in a 6-3 decision concerning recruiting messages sent by text to a bunch of people who weren’t even qualified to enroll in the Navy in the first place. C-E’s lawyers argued that the affected individuals couldn’t sue as part of a class action because the agency had offered to pay the minimum fee for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg and five of her fellow judges strongly disagreed.

As we mentioned in an earlier post today, U.S. Navy hasn’t released any promotional ads in quite a while because Campbell Ewald continued to file additional appeals to the client’s decision to move its contract to Y&R in federal court after the feds rejected the initial case in September.

At the time, then-CEO Jim Palmer said, “While we are disappointed with the GAO decision, we’re currently looking at next steps. The fight might not be over.”

And it wasn’t, because lawyers for C-E refused to back down. As the feds noted back in September: “Filing a request for reconsideration with GAO does not stay contract award or performance like filing a bid protest with GAO does.”

That meant the government continued to pay C-E in some form up until last week, when the contract dispute was resolved and Y&R finally announced its plans to open a 50-person office in Memphis to work on the account.

Because the Navy is a publicly funded institution, the parties eventually paying for this contract (which didn’t actually involve any work for nearly a year) were the American people. We have to wonder why more right wing anti-government blogs aren’t upset about this blatant waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.