On Naval Maneuvers

In an effort to expedite its agency search, the U.S. Navy has made an unusual request: provide “top-level” creative ideas as part of an initial submission that is due today.
As a result, contenders must submit work before they present and will be limited to using only those materials, sources said.
More than a dozen agencies contacted the Navy about its $40 million account, which includes traditional advertising, direct marketing and interactive duties, said Commander Tom Howington. They include Campbell-Ewald, Detroit, and New York shops Young & Rubicam, Bates Worldwide, and Rapp Collins Worldwide, the direct marketing incumbent, sources said.
Howington declined to identify shops and the agencies declined comment.
Rapp Collins is bidding for the entire account, sources said, but it is unclear with whom the shop is partnering. Lead incumbent BBDO Worldwide in New York is not defending, according to sources. BBDO declined comment.
Also in play are media duties, promotional work and ethnic advertising. The lead agency eventually selected will be expected to partner with shops that provide those services. The Internet is expected to play an integral role in the Navy’s future marketing efforts, according to sources.
Besides expediting the search, the request for ideas up front helps even the playing field, sources said. Otherwise, with a long list of agencies and potentially several weeks of presentations, some shops would get more time to prepare than others.
As Howington put it: “We didn’t require them to go out and do spec creative. We’re not requiring technical proposals or even requiring detailed marketing plans for next year. We’re just asking for their top-level approach. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible on the offerers.”