Marines Tout Awareness

NEW YORK The U.S. Marine Corps will shift from recruitment messages to awareness and education with a new campaign that kicks off tonight during American Idol.

The effort from WPP Group’s JWT shows Marines in formation across various areas of the country: wheat fields, open plains, Times Square, the Hoover Dam, etc. Images emphasize the ubiquity of the Corps in American life while a voiceover explains the elite military group’s duty to defend the nation. The familiar slogan: “The few. The proud. The Marines” closes the spot with a call to visit the Web site.

“Some of the past commercials have been more for your [service] age-qualified public whereas this one doesn’t have a target group; it’s made for anyone from eight years old to 80 years old,” said Staff Sergeant Brian Griffin, a representative at the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, Quantico, Va.

Griffin denied speculation that the new awareness messaging might be motivated by the current political environment and conflicted consumer feelings about the ongoing war in Iraq.

“We gravitated toward this [kind of messaging] because we wanted to deepen that connection with those that might never have met a Marine or understood what it meant to climb a mountain and become a Marine like in the other commercials,” such as last year’s “Climb” spot that focused on the benefits of enlistment to the individual.

While secondary campaigns will include recruitment messages, the focal point this year will be awareness, in which the Marines’ Web site will play a key role, according to Griffin. and will provide video testimonials from current and former Marines, their mothers and other citizens, that Griffin said would further drive public knowledge of the fighting force.

Aside from the TV campaign, the spot will live online via the Marines’ Web sites, in addition to YouTube postings of video content from the campaign. Print and direct mail initiatives also support. Spend for the campaign was not revealed.

The Marines spent $90 million in measured media in the first 10 months of 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.