Ad agencies heed the call of Uncle Sam

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The U.S. government is enlisting agencies in the war on terrorism as both the State Department and National Security Agency hire shops and Tom Ridge, director of homeland security, looks to recruit an ad agency. The U.S. Postal Service, meanwhile, is resuming advertising following the anthrax outbreak as it prepares for what's normally its biggest season.

The National Security Agency plans to do a variation of the famed "Loose lips sink ships" campaign of World War II, according to people familiar with the effort. The planned paid campaign, including print and possibly outdoor ads, is being executed by Trahan, Burden & Charles, Baltimore, the individuals said.

Neither the NSA nor the ad agency would comment on the planned campaign, which carries the overall theme, "Is it something we said?" The effort warns that free exchange of information, such as publishing floor plans of New York buildings, could jeopardize national security. One ad features a "keep it zipped" theme, referring to disk drives in a modern twist on an old theme. The budget couldn't be determined, although the NSA generally spends little on advertising. "We have no information to provide," an NSA spokesman said.

The State Department's "Rewards for justice" campaign will encourage people to turn in terrorists and is being created by WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide at the request of the Advertising Council. The effort will include print, radio and stickers. Charlotte Beers, undersecretary of public diplomacy, last week displayed draft ads for the effort carrying headlines such as "Information on terrorists. $25 million reward" and "Can a woman stop terrorism?"

Ms. Beers said the ads-part of an overall U.S. communications strategy that relies only in small part on advertising-will provide guidance on what people can do to fight terrorism. The push will be formally unveiled in two weeks. It will first run in the U.S. as public service announcements. It may later be used overseas; it's not clear if that would be a paid effort. The State Department also created its own Web banner ads to run outside the country and aimed at driving traffic to State Department Web sites.

The Ad Council also will select the agency to work with Mr. Ridge, who is seeking a shop to promote the volunteer civil-defense service President Bush outlined in a speech Nov. 8. A shop is expected to be named in several weeks, said Ad Council President-CEO Peggy Conlon.

Meanwhile, the Postal Service resumed advertising Nov. 10 after suspending advertising following the appearance of anthrax letters.

A 60-second spot, from Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, New York, starts in black-and-white and features portraits of postal carriers and the postal creed, "Neither rain, nor snow ... ." It then switches to color with images of current postal carriers. Background music is Carly Simon's "Let the River Run." The spot is running on network news-related programming, National Football League games on network and cable and on prime-time TV. The Postal Service declined to disclose spending.


"We hope the take-away is that the Postal Service is working hard and that people are working even in the face of some danger," said Larry Speakes, the Postal Service's manager of advertising.

Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, is the Postal Service's main creative shop; Grey sibling MediaCom handles media. After the anthrax incidents, the post office asked its roster of agencies to come to Washington, D.C., to present ideas.

Although Grey also will do a print version of the ad, the Postal Service said Burnett remains its main agency; no other creative is planned.

Normally, November and December are heavy months for Postal Service ads as the service works to convince shippers to use mail rather than delivery services for holiday packages. Mr. Speakes, however, said the service plans no other ads this year and will rely on the Grey creative until at least January.

At least one other terrorism-related ad campaign is in the works, this one a public service effort for the National Crime Prevention Council, famous for its McGruff the Crime Dog. The group, whose Ad Council campaign is done by Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York, gets government funding but isn't a government agency.

The effort tells people what steps they can take to see communities remain safe and features McGruff only in the final frame. "This campaign is about what citizens can do [alone] and with their neighborhood in reporting crime," said Jack Calhoun, president-CEO of the National Crime Prevention Council. "It is important that we stay connected. Part of the thrust of terrorism is to isolate us."

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