Air Force chooses $50 mil contender for new image ads

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While in the midst of a $50 million account review, the U.S. Air Force has tapped one of the contending agencies to produce an image campaign.

Siegelgale, New York, created a $28 million network and cable TV effort that plays up both patriotism and the excitement of being in the Air Force. A series of 30-second spots break on Sept. 2 while a :60 was released in movie theaters Aug. 25.

The ads, themed "No one comes close," arrive as the Air Force reviews contenders for its 2001 advertising account. Siegelgale is vying against GSD&M, Austin, Texas; Image Media Services, McLean, Va.; TMP Worldwide, Washington, D.C.; an undisclosed contender; and 14-year Air Force incumbent Bozell Kamstra, Irving, Texas.


For this latest effort, Siegelgale was hired as a creative subcontractor to Bozell. Bozell handled the media buy for the campaign.

"Recruitment was only one part of the story, and general command thought there was another part that Bozell wasn't necessarily in touch with," said Siegelgale Chief Creative Officer Ken Cooke. Siegelgale staffers interviewed hundreds of airmen to gain insight for the campaign. "We went around the world interviewing and talking to [personnel] from airmen to generals," Mr. Cooke said.

The new campaign marks the Air Force's second year in using TV advertising as a vehicle for recruitment. The service didn't utilize TV ads prior to 1999. Air Force Lt. Col. Bob Williams, who oversaw the review, said this latest effort is distinct from the Air Force's previous approach.


"It's a departure from what we did in the past," he said, adding that former advertising "focused on individual gains such as travel, education and money for school. We wanted to change that approach and focus on intangibles such as honor and teamwork."

As this campaign ramps up -- with advertising slated for fall prime-time programming and the Olympics -- the Air Force's $50 million review winds down. Three finalists will be picked in the next few weeks.

Executives close to the situation said the new campaign from Siegelgale puts the agency in a good position in the review, since the Air Force is now familiar with both the agency's staffers and work style. Mr. Cooke wouldn't elaborate on the agency's chances but said, "We've established a lot of credibility and to them that's important."

After the three finalists are notified that they've made it to the next round, they will be given a modest amount of money to create work, 32 days to hand in written responses to questions, and five more days to complete a presentation. A decision is hoped for by November.

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