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?

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

press ads.

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,

Alex Taylor.

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.’


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