Air Force spots showing world of importance

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The U.S. Air Force's $27 million campaign breaking today makes no mention of its role in the war on terrorism or the bombing of Afghanistan.

The network and cable TV and print effort for the Air Force, which until last year ran no paid advertising, was created by Omnicom Group's GSD&M, Austin, Texas. Much of the effort was produced before the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.

"The reason that a young man or young woman would join the Air Force is the same on Sept. 10 as it is today," said Donald Carpenter, the Air Force's director of strategic marketing, explaining why the campaign wasn't altered.

Following Sept. 11, the Air Force did change one of its existing spots produced by Siegelgale, New York, dropping the voice-over and simply showing airmen and women doing their jobs. Mr. Carpenter, however, said the campaign's aim to more directly push recruiting called for a different approach.

Historically, the Air Force didn't use paid advertising because it was able to meet recruitment goals without it. Siegelgale was hired in 1999 to create an identity campaign after the Air Force missed its recruitment goals by 8%; this year, the Air Force met its goals. GSD&M succeeds Siegelgale on the account.

GSD&M's campaign uses the tagline, "When you cross into the blue, everything is different and important." In one of two spots, a woman working on her car looks off to see a very different world of Air Force imagery. "There is the world you know and one you can only imagine" says a voice-over as the spot shows scenes of Air Force activity.

A second execution starts with a man pressing buttons on a car sun roof before it switches over to military scenes. Other commercials will feature pictures of Air Force humanitarian missions and cyber-warfare activities. The Air Force also will run print ads and radio in some local areas. Spots in Spanish from Dieste & Partners, Dallas, follow a similar format.

All the spots end with the tag, and the Air Force today unveils a revised "cross over into the blue" Web site to reflect the new advertising. The site was created by Omnicom's Tribal DDB, New York.

Mr. Carpenter said the Air Force hopes the spots will prompt youths to start thinking of the Air Force as a career alternative. "We believe from the research on active airmen that they may see this stuff and say, `I think I will check this out,"' he said.

GSD&M is certainly hoping that happens. The Air Force contract, like other recent military ad contracts, compensates the ad agency in part on how well the ads work in driving recruitment.

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