WASHINGTON: After more than five decades of relying on advertising for its recruitment efforts, the Marine Corps has decided to let PR pros take a shot at finding them a few good men.
Advertising firm J. Walter Thompson (JWT) has been making recruitment ads for the Marines for 55 years. But when the $200 million, five-year contract came up for renewal this year, the Corps decided it wanted to bring in a PR firm to help explore new avenues for reaching potential recruits. So JWT pulled WPP-owned sister agency Hill & Knowlton aboard to help repitch the business, and won the account in July.
Precise strategies are yet to be decided upon, but product placements, digital initiatives, and the use of former marines as third-party advocates are among those being discussed.
J. Cronin, a senior partner at JWT, cited several reasons behind the Marines' decision to expand the campaign, including a declining veteran population, the increase in the immigrant population, and less of an understanding about what the Marine Corps does.
Details of the contract - budget, tactics, specific objectives, and what percentage will be allocated to PR as opposed to advertising - are still to be determined. A bigger budget seems unlikely, as Cronin cited the need to do more with less as part of the reason for the change.
"The Marine Corps is looking to make its dollars stretch even further," he said, "and we all agreed we'd have to add PR as a component to do that."