The "Army of One" meets "Survivor"

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The Army is jumping on the reality-based TV bandwagon to promote recruitment to Gen Xers with a second effort that looks more like MTV's "Real World" than past campaigns like "Be all you can be."

As a follow up to last month's launch of the "An Army of One" advertising campaign developed by Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, the "Basic Training" campaign follows six recruits through the grueling nine-week basic training process. The unscripted spots will capture the action, warts-and-all, as the recruits attempt to master each level of training. TV will break during NBC's XFL premier on Feb. 3 starting with the "reception" phase and followed by weekly updates over the course of boot camp. The first basic training experiences will break Feb. 16. Additional Spanish-language TV spots will follow one of the six recruits.

"We want people to have an accurate look into what it means to be a soldier in today's Army," said Col. Kevin Kelley, director of advertising and public affairs for U.S. Army Recruiting Command. "There's no better way to show the teamwork, camaraderie and personal commitment that the Army develops than to show real soldiers going through this process."

The campaign was created to clear what the Army called "misconceptions" about basic training experiences identified during market research. "This phase of the campaign will provide a closer look into why young men and women seek out the Army for opportunity and what they get out of it," said Ray DeThorne, exec VP-account director, Leo Burnett USA. A spokeswoman added that much of what Gen Xers know about the Army are based on media portrayals, such as films like "Full Metal Jacket."

A unique twist to this campaign: "We don't know who will make it through training, so this is very different for the Army," said the spokeswoman.

The TV ads are designed to send traffic to an interactive area on the Army web site at www.goarmy.com where Burnett's Chemistri interactive unit added complementary web components that include "webisodes" created with footage from the filming. There, visitors can read more about the recruits, view additional "webisodes" (with color commentary from the drill sergeants), and search some 200 Army occupations, chat with recruiters and other prospective soldiers, and meet the recruits in the campaign.. Updates will be posted on the site each week to coincide with the TV updates.

"The website is where people actually see what basic is like without talking to a recruiter. So when they do talk wtih a recruiter they already know a lot about it," said Chris Miller, co-CEO at Chemistri. "For this generation it's imporant to seek out information on your own and find out more about the Army and then opt in."

Copyright February 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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