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Burnett on Army work

In Ad Age's Jan. 29 Forum, Thomas Evans wrote regarding the new Army campaign ("The wrong campaign"). While I respect Mr. Evans' passion and opinion, as well as his personal Army experience, we believe very strongly in the integrity, truthfulness and strength of "An Army of One." Knowing that advertising messages are a popular target for critics and provide subject matter on which intelligent people are destined to disagree, my first inclination was to leave well enough alone and go on about my business. But there are some points that must be made.

I'm sure Mr. Evans would agree that any new campaign must communicate the Army to young adults honestly, passionately and in a fresh way. This campaign does.

"An Army of One" is a dual message. The first is the importance of team. The Army's values and discipline make it the world's most powerful ground force. Kids want to be part of something larger than themselves, and the "Army of One" is more than 1 million soldiers around the world who selflessly dedicate their lives to defend our nation as a single force in pursuit of one mission, under one set of shared values.

The second part of the message concentrates on individual empowerment. The Army applauds individual merit-and will continue to. Mobility at critical times relies on the single soldier's ability to make a decision and act. Soldiers become an "Army of One"-physically, mentally, emotionally-to fulfill the entire group's mission.

The relevance of this campaign cannot be confirmed by a former Army recruiter, a seasoned soldier, or a group of advertising people. It would be shortsighted to trust any of us. It can only be borne out by the people who are being asked to respond to the message.

We talked to young men and women around the country before we began to develop our campaign, and found a common thread in nearly every conversation we had: "Be All You Can Be" doesn't have meaning for young people. "How do I `Be All I Can Be' and why would I want to?" was a frequent comment.

Further proof was found in the local recruiting stations. Young people simply were not signing up.

Since this campaign aired, we've continued to talk to young people. They get this concept and it's dual message. They understand it. And it motivates them to act. The totality of the effort from direct mail, a revamped Web site, print ads, recruiter communication, and TV reinforces the message. The campaign's second wave introduces five new soldiers who just enrolled in basic training, offering uncut, raw and personal stories.

We believe in this work and its integrity and longevity. With any worthwhile change, sincere debate will continue. We welcome it. It inspires and challenges us. When that passion is lacking, that's when our job becomes discouraging.

But our passion for this work is great. It speaks about a changing Army-technologically advanced, lighter, faster and more mobile, and information-savvy. It's exciting. In fact, several members of the Burnett team are former soldiers. They understand and believe in the Army's values and want a new generation of soldiers to experience what they did.

A reporter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch put it best: "Anybody who ever served in the Army can remember the wildly different characters on the bunks in his squad bay. It's no different today. Human beings don't come in a single, standard-issue, one-size-fits-all form. Neither do soldiers. Thus, an Army of One. Maybe we ought to give Cpl. Lovett a chance."

We do believe in Corporal Lovett. We believe in "An Army of One." It will secure a new generation of soldiers through a dual message of individual empowerment and its intrinsic connection to team.

Ray DeThorne

Exec VP-Account Director

on the U.S. Army account

Leo Burnett USA


Review insults military

I wanted to comment on Bob Garfield's review of the new Army advertising campaign ("Army's latest campaign isn't all it can be and rings false," AA, Jan. 15). ... I understand reviews are really just someone's opinion, and often think Gar-field's are insightful, witty and on target. However, does he really think insulting the military is necessary when reviewing their campaign? During my MBA, I worked on a marketing project with the Army and I agree their recent campaign efforts have been off target But to call people who believe in serving their country "halfwits" is unnecessary, and perhaps more importantly to Mr. Garfield's purpose, it degrades his article.

Katherine Gehman



* In " Y&R Advertising: Major losses mark a year of upheaval" (Special Report: The Best Agencies, Jan. 29, P. S16), Y&R picked up new billings from Hoffman LaRoche for Xenical, not from Pfizer, as reported.

* In "Venus and Serena become Avon's new leading ladies" (Jan. 22, P. 8), Anita Madeira Inc., New York, was Avon Creative Agency's creative resource in the "Let's Talk" campaign.

* In "Block's less taxing future" (Jan. 15, P. 6), the contest tie-in with ABC-TV's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" is being handled by H&R Block's media agency, The Media Edge, New York. Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis, handles creative for Block.

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