JWT to repitch for RAF following armed forces overhaul

LONDON - The Royal Air Force is reviewing its creative out of J Walter Thompson to coincide with a radical overhaul of the armed services by the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon.

Following Hoon's recent announcement that he intends to undertake a major restructure of the UK's military capabilities, which will include thousands of redundancies, COI Communications has revealed it is to oversee an evaluation of the RAF's advertising arrangements.

It has invited the incumbent, as well as DFGW, Mother and Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners, to pitch for the £2m business. JWT has held the account for more than 30 years.

The successful agency will be charged with developing an overarching campaign, aimed at 16- to 24-year-olds, that will raise awareness of the RAF as a potential career. It is scheduled for release at the beginning of next year and will drive people to the RAF's website and relevant recruitment outlets.

Among the plans outlined by Hoon for modernisation was the suggestion that the Ministry of Defence should cut the number of servicemen and women in the RAF by 7,500 over the next four years.

Despite this, the RAF signed up nearly 1,900 new recruits in 2003 and aims to at least match that number again in 2004.

Richard Huthwaite, the head of marketing, RAF careers, claimed there remained a need to attract new servicemen to the force.

He said: "The RAF has a future and the proposed redundancies do not take away from this fact. There are many specialised areas within the RAF, including medics and legal officers, who still have to compete with companies in the private sector."

He added: "We need to be attracting the best young people that we can."

Huthwaite also stressed that the review was not a result of any dissatisfaction the RAF had with JWT's past work.

The most recent campaign from the agency was "supermarket", which ran at the start of 2004. It featured a worker in a supermarket. After getting a splinter in his finger, he is fussed over by the store's management, who insist on closing down the supermarket so they can attend to him.

The aim of the ad was to underline the value the RAF places on each person, regardless of their position.

Simon Bolton, the chief executive of JWT, confirmed the agency would be repitching for the account.

He said: "Having served the RAF with distinction for more than 30 years, it is absolutely the right thing for us to participate in this review and help the RAF through this challenging period in its history."

The pitch is being overseen by Rebecca Selman at COI. Media planning and buying is unaffected by the review. Manning Gottlieb OMD handles planning.

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