Mullen retains $50M account

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Mullen has successfully retained the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Advertising, Market Research & Studies program contract after a federal-government-mandated competitive review lasting almost three months.

The one-year contract, renewable with four extra annual options, is valued at about $50 million for agency and subcontractor services, production and paid media expenditures. Mullen, which has handled the account since 2002, is tasked with ads that influence conversations about military service.

"There's just fewer and fewer people in the general population of America who can speak to direct military experience, so therefore it's more important to provide detailed and accurate information about the benefits of military service," said David Swaebe, vice president of corporate communications at Mullen, Wenham, MA.

As agency of record, Mullen will allocate its spending across advertising, direct and interactive marketing and public relations. Channels such as television, print, direct mail, online banners and search optimization will be used.

"The mandate from the Department of Defense is to really assist the services to get the word out as to what it means to be in the military, highlighting the careers and benefits," said Dan Gregory, vice president and account director of direct marketing at Mullen.

Mullen is part of the agency holding giant Interpublic Group of Companies Inc., New York. The shop's client roster includes General Motors, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Stride Rite, Royal Ahold, Turner Broadcasting System, Match.com, Sealy, Wachovia and Orbitz.

The agency last year spent between $12 million and $15 million on measured-media general advertising for JAMRS marketing. The rest was spent on direct marketing, PR, subcontractors and production. Campaign spending is subject to congressional allocations and client needs.

Mullen's new JAMRS campaign will target influencers including parents and educators.

"This is a subject matter that's not to be taken lightly," Mr. Gregory said. "In other words, it's an important decision and we want those who are interested in joining the military and their parents to really get informed of what it really means.

"In this day and age, obviously with our job talking to influencers, we're not trying to avoid that there's danger joining the military," he said, "but we also want to let it be known that there are a lot of good benefits that come with joining the military."

The benefits include getting finance for a college education and career training.

Mullen's campaign in 2002 focused on people who came out of the military and went on to successful careers in civilian life. A dentist, a professional football player and a hat seller were cited as examples.

In 2004, former military man Kelly Perdew, winner of that year's "The Apprentice" show on NBC was the role model for the JAMRS campaign.

The following year, Mullen embarked on a campaign called "Make it a two-way conversation." People were invited to get the facts on military service by visiting the site at www.todaysmilitary.com. That effort has run on national television and in print since late 2005.

"We're really here to promote military service," Mr. Gregory said. "We're not promoting a specific military service."

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