Siegel & Gale, New York, is charged with finding an image, logo and tagline that convey more than just Tomcats, Thunderbirds and bombers. The new direction-which could incorporate the Air Force's reach into space, high technology and electronics-should be decided by the end of the year, said Col. Terry Tyrrell, chief of strategic communications in the Air Force's public affairs division.
The Air Force spent $12 million on marketing last fiscal year, but is expected to boost that to more than $50 million. By comparison, the U.S. Army has close to a $100 million marketing budget.
Ads will be created by the Air Force's agency of record, Bozell Kamstra, Dallas, which is in the fourth year of a five-year contract. Bozell ran the search that resulted in Siegel & Gale's appointment.
Bozell Kamstra President Tom O'Connor said design companies are better equipped for the technical work that goes into creating an image and logo to last decades.
1ST TIME SINCE 1979
The Air Force expects to recruit only about 31,000 people by the close of its fiscal year in September. That's 8% short of its goal, the first time it has missed its target since 1979. In addition to competing against other branches of the armed forces, its recruitment drive has been hampered by a thriving economy, low unemployment, increased university attendance and lower awareness, the spokesman said.
"We didn't so much ask them to create an identity as to help us frame an identity," Col. Tyrrell said of Siegel & Gale. "We're not creating something from scratch. We're looking at ourselves, trying to frame who we are and what we do."
Col. Tyrrell said he did not know if other branches of the service were re-imaging themselves but said most are suffering from lower-than-expected enlistments.
The only branches meeting recruitment targets at the end of June were the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, according to the government.
The Air Force's longtime tagline, "Aim high," could be seen as a bit "tired,"