US Army Ad Review: Leo Burnett Contract Extended

31 December 2004

"Procrastination," said US journalist/poet Don Marquis, "is the art of keeping up with yesterday."

That maxim, uttered some sixty years ago, remains today's watchword with the US Army's desk warriors.

The military on Thursday culminated the longstanding review of its advertising account - worth an estimated $1.2 billion ($880.86m; £624.35m) over five years - by extending for six months the tenure of incumbent Leo Burnett. The contract had been due to expire Thursday.

Burnett, a unit of Paris-headquartered Publicis Groupe, had been encircled for several months by WPP Group's heavy artillery, Young & Rubicam and Oglivy & Mather, while Interpublic's McCann-Erickson attacked on various flanks.

But on the very day the victor was due to be named and the spoils awarded, the rules of engagement abruptly changed. The military declined all comment save a terse: "Right now this decision is in the best interest of the US Army."

Meantime, Burnett's controversial 'Army of One' campaign will continue to run while the combatants regroup and Madison Avenue speculates.

Opines Jack Trout, president of marketing specialist Trout & Partners: "I couldn't think of a worse-case scenario for recruitment. The Army's ad efforts will be hampered by the war and the fact that soldiers are being injured and killed daily."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff