Here's Why You Missed McCann's First Army Ad

It's in Arabic and Only Airing to World Cup Audiences

By Published on .

WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- It's the long-awaited first broadcast-TV work from a new agency on a closely watched $1.35 billion account. It was produced in less than two weeks, runs nationally on the World Cup and is getting heavy rotation. So why isn't McCann Erickson's first spot for the U.S. Army getting much attention? It's in Arabic.
McCann's first TV spot for the U.S. Army is in Arabic and seeks to recruit Arabic-speaking translators. It's only airing in World Cup programming. | ALSO: Comment on this article in the 'Your Opinion' box below.
McCann's first TV spot for the U.S. Army is in Arabic and seeks to recruit Arabic-speaking translators. It's only airing in World Cup programming. | ALSO: Comment on this article in the 'Your Opinion' box below.

Replaced Leo Burnett
Though the Interpublic Group of Cos. agency's full-on advertising campaign remains several months off, the shop that replaced Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, in December 2005 on the Army business has broken its first national TV ad: a bid a to recruit Arabic-speaking translators.

The push began as a local advertising initiative for the Army's 1st Brigade, which seeks 250 translators for the U.S. forces each year. But it ended up as a national buy on the Arab Radio & Television Network in the U.S. and Canada after the agency discerned what an unusual efficiency the World Cup Arabic telecasts offered.

David A. Salazar, an Army public-affairs officer, said that 1st Brigade and Army officials met with community leaders May 19 to discuss recruitment of Arabic translators when it was mentioned that the World Cup has high interest in the Arabic-speaking community and might be the perfect forum.

To air 800 times
Less than two weeks later, McCann had bought time and created two commercials set to run a total of 800 times during the network's telecasts of the soccer spectacle.

One spot features still pictures of soldiers in Iraq and Iran meeting with people and children. Translated, it says, "I am a bridge between two cultures. I am an American soldier and an Arabic interpreter. I build schools and bring running water. I make the children smile because I can speak with them. I am making changes in the world." It ends with a mention of a $10,000 reward for joining the Army and the possibility of expedited U.S. citizenship.

Big change in interpreter ads
The Army has mostly been using posters to try to find interpreters and the TV buy is a big change, but it seemed warranted.

Tom Owen, a field-marketing official for McCann, said the agency only recently became aware of the availability of the package, but thought of it as soon as the World Cup was mentioned. "It was the catalyst," he said, crediting Pentagon officials at the meeting with the remarkably quick turnaround in getting the ad done.

Sean Marshall, chief advertising and public affairs officer for the 1st Brigade, said the Army has seen immediate results, with calls rising from one or two a day to 20 to 27 a week.
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