By MEG CARTER, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 14 February 1997 12:00AM
It’s easy to do good ads for the Army, the critics say. But when
did you last see an integrated campaign to rival Saatchis’ provocative
Army recruitment drive?
In every market there are two indications that advertising is working:
results and emulation by the competition. Saatchi and Saatchi’s
integrated campaign for the Army has achieved both in spades.
So far, as a result of the campaign, officer and soldier recruitment
levels have risen, awareness is running at 95 per cent among 16- to
24-year-old men, and there is a significant improvement in the image of
an army career.
The most recent estimates show that officer recruitment will easily hit
its target for 1996-97 and is expected to be up 2.5 per cent year on
year while soldier recruitment is expected to achieve a 25 per cent hike
on 1995-96 levels.
This success has not gone unnoticed by industry observers. When
reviewing a new RAF ad in Private View (Campaign, 6 September 1996), Leo
Burnett’s executive creative director, Gerard Stamp, could only ask:
’Why does it feel like a cheap trick?’ He concluded: ’If quality of
advertising was anything to go by, I think we’d all be joining the
Where most direct campaigns seek to make a response easy, this one put
challenges in the way of applicants such as giving readers the task of
finding a photocopier to enlarge the too-small coupon on one of the
The degree of difficulty of the challenges was adjusted to suit the type
of applicant required and all elements of the campaign - which included
TV, radio, direct mail, press, posters and a Website - emphasised the
umbrella campaign theme, ’Be the best’.
In each case, communications were used as filters to ensure the best
quality recruits were attracted and the poor quality ones
A key objective was to maximise the number of quality applicants.
Coupled with this was the requirement to improve conversions from
enquiry to enlistment, all against a background of falling enlistments
until 1994-95, when Saatchis took over the account.
The Army campaign has earned a number of industry awards. Much-lauded
for its range, it has picked up a Campaign Poster Award, an IPA
Recruitment Advertising award, a Direct Marketing Association award for
best integrated campaign and an Aerial Award for best radio
Such a breadth of accolades has precedents, of course, but it is a
further indication of how uncommonly consistent and thought-provoking
the work has been. This is not only a professional and truly integrated
campaign but one that judges representing all disciplines have
recognised. Credit goes to the Saatchis account team, headed by Jeremy
Pyne and Belinda Huckle, and to the creatives who worked on the
campaign, headed by Saatchis’ joint creative director, the copywriter,
Adam Kean, and his art director partner and deputy creative director,
You may feel that the Army recruitment ads have no real competition, but
consider this: the Navy and RAF (whose ads, interestingly, appear to be
following the lead taken by the Army campaign) are direct
Add increasing competition from the further education sector with
universities and colleges using mass media to fill their places and you
realise that, like any other advertiser, the Army is competing for the
attention of its market.
What is most striking about the Saatchis campaign is that experiencing
the work feels so like experiencing life in the Army, while the previous
fun-loving ’Frank’ campaign had no such effect. Also, the Saatchis
campaign offers a striking view of the different attributes that the
British Army has to possess in the 90s: peacekeeper and modern fighting
Other impressive direct campaigns this year came from Daewoo, Channel 5
and First Direct.
Daewoo, Campaign’s Advertiser of the Year in 1995, has always taken a
thoroughly integrated approach to its advertising and 1996 was no
With a TV campaign and an expansion of its direct and database marketing
work, Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters built on the customer-friendly
approach that the car-maker has pioneered since its launch in the UK
just over two years ago.
What stood out with Daewoo, as with the Army, was its non-traditional
approach. It rankled rivals with its confrontational strategy of placing
ads showing the ’Daewooprice’ opposite those of its competitors in
newspapers, and broke yet more new ground by linking with Sainsbury’s to
test car retailing from supermarkets.
In short, Daewoo set out to achieve something that is quite different:
the listening car company.
We felt that Saatchis’ retuning campaign for Channel 5, which was
designed by Wolff Olins, was certainly one of the highest-profile
integrated campaigns of 1996. However, there was an opinion that unless
you already happened to know something about Channel 5, the campaign -
bright and friendly as it was with its freephone number - failed to
invite the crucial call to action. Time alone will tell.
First Direct was back in 1996 with its ’Tell me one good thing about
your bank’ line. It stood out with strong. stylish ads from WCRS that
drew 150,000 new customers to the bank, a commendable increase of 20 per
But the Army campaign - with its clever tack of making response a
challenge - overshadowed them all. Will it sustain its momentum?
Probably, given these words from Brigadier John Milne, the former
director of Army recruiting, in his annual report, published in April
1996: ’An air of optimism prevails over recruitment at present - the
scene is set for us to make a real impact on numbers over the next three
years, capitalising on an imaginative advertising campaign and an
enhanced Army image.’
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk