Navy and Marine Corps Ready Ad Agency Reviews for 2014

Each Increased Measured Media Spending by a Large Margin Last Year

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The Navy and Marine Corps are both preparing to review their creative agency contracts in 2014.

Navy sailors on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Navy sailors on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower Credit: Navy Recruiting

"The Marine Corps Recruiting Command is currently reviewing the advertising services contract and will be executing the re-compete process for the award of the advertising services contract," said a spokesman from the government agency in an e-mail. He added that the agency "anticipates issuing a solicitation to be posted by early calendar year 2014 and awarding the new contract mid-to-late 2014."

A Navy spokeswoman said that the government agency has issued a pre-solicitation notification and will submit its request for proposals in "the next several weeks."

WPP's JWT is gearing up to defend its 65-year-old Marine Corps account -- a formal process it's mastered over the years. Navy incumbent Lowe Campbell Ewald, part of the Interpublic Group of Cos., is also expected to defend its account. The Navy awarded C-E the business in 2000 and retained the shop after its latest review in 2009.

"We know this opportunity, just like all things Marine, is earned, never given," said a JWT spokeswoman in a statement. "We are proud of the work that we have created together with our Marine partners and welcome each chance to support young Marines on Recruiting Duty. Our team's mindset and approach is that we work hard to earn the Marine Corps' business every day, showing our innovation, efficiency and competitive advantage in all we do."

Lowe Campbell Ewald declined to comment.

These accounts tend to go up for review every five years. The Navy is right on schedule, but the Marine Corps is now stretching into six years since its last creative review. It's not like a government agency to change its formal timeline, so some agency executives are chalking up the delay to the government cutbacks that have plagued nearly all players in Washington. The across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration slashed government agencies' marketing budgets early this year, and the budget fiasco this summer froze government spending deemed non-essential for a period of time.

John Caldwell, assistant chief of staff and national director of public affairs for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, referenced tighter budgets in an Ad Age story about the Marine Corps "Toward the Sounds of Chaos" campaign last March: He had said that web videos cut from archived video allowed the Marine Corps to keep costs down when "everyone's budget is pressurized."

Pressurized budgets aside, it would be a tall order for budgets in 2013 or 2014 to top growth in 2012. The Marine Corps is the second-biggest government spender of measured media behind USPS, according to the Ad Age Data Center. The group spent $44.8 million on domestic measured media in 2012 -- a 22% increase over 2011. The Navy spent $43.7 million -- an 84% increase over 2011.

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