GSD&M snares Air Force prize

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Don't want to fly a plane? Join the Air Force anyway.

The armed-services branch will be positioned by its new ad agency as a place where recruits can learn life lessons in addition to getting their pilot's wings.

GSD&M, Austin, Texas, won the $40 million account after a shootout that included incumbent Bozell Kamstra, Dallas (bidding with its New York sibling, Bozell Group), and Image Media Services, McLean, Va.

"We want to show more than just planes," said Brad Nadal, account manager at GSD&M.

The Air Force account could be worth a considerable amount to GSD&M, which expects to claim $1.1 billion in billings this year. The Air Force awarded a one-year contract that can be renewed yearly for up to seven years. GSD&M partnered with several minority agencies, including Dieste & Partners, Dallas, for Hispanic ads, and Footsteps, New York, for African-American ads.

Bozell Kamstra had handled the account for 14 years. The Air Force declined to comment on the new contract.

Mr. Nadal said each of the contenders was given $50,000 to develop a prospective national advertising and marketing plan. GSD&M focused on researching how teens view the Air Force and then offered a comprehensive marketing plan that includes events and other marketing activities as well as advertising. The agency will keep the Air Force's "No one comes close" theme, Mr. Nadal said, but wants to "activate" it.

"We want to show how the Air Force outsmarts the competition, how it helps you get ahead in life, technology. We believe the Air Force has a story to tell," he said.

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