Air Force Seen Staying In Formation With HMS

By Nora FitzGerald

ATLANTA–Finalists for the $3.5 million U.S. Air Force Reserve recruiting account include incumbent HMS Partners of Miami, The Alpha Group of Asheville, N.C., and one other undisclosed agency, sources close to the process said last week.

The Air Force is conducting a mandatory review. Creative presentations were held on May 21-23, according to the sources.

Air Force officials declined to comment on the review.

Several agencies attended an April 16 preproposal conference, sources said. Those at the meeting included Mark Havard of TMP Worldwide, Michael Louden of Louden Associates and Richard Driscoll of Bates Southwest. Bates and possibly other agencies, however, pulled out because they anticipated that incumbent HMS had too much of an edge.

‘Because of decreased military budgets, they may be looking to stay with the incumbent for efficiency in existing relationships,’ said one source. ‘At least that’s what a lot of agencies think.’

‘The Air Force is looking for innovation on the frontline of the recruiting process,’ said Gene Kendrick, marketing service director at The Alpha Group. ‘They need an agency that can think out of the box because of the broadcasters stance on (public service announcements).’

Kendrick added that he surveyed a number of stations that no longer run PSAs.

Separately, The Alpha Group is pursuing the branding business of Carolina Power & Light in Raleigh, N.C. The agency met with the utility last week. CP&L, which recently hired Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods of Little Rock, Ark., for its advertising business, has said it is also looking for a branding consultant.

HMS Partners’ contract is not up until the fall, at which time the Air Force will announce its decision. The shop has handled the business for 15 years.

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