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Ads salute patriotism

Marines, Army stress commitment to country

NEW YORK — They're still few. They're still proud. But in new TV ads featuring footage of various missions, training and assaults, the Marine Corps wants Americans to know them for their values: honor, courage and country.

The "Army of One" still exists, too. But the Army's newest spot flashes photos of soldiers baring their units' insignia along with their respective mottos: "Led by Love of Country," "Always Ready" and "No task too tough."

Patriotism has gone up a notch in the new ads launched by the Army and the Marines. The ads, which began airing the day after war began in Iraq, feature commitment to country instead of individual benefits.

Maj. David Griesmer, a Marine spokesman, said the service's new ad "better reflects the mood of the country. . . . It emphasizes the call to service to the nation." The older ad, by contrast, "is more about why you want to become a Marine," he said.

The reasoning makes sense, say military and marketing experts, even though the ads may not attract more recruits.

"Young people during these times want to do something important," said Al Ries, chairman of marketing consulting firm Ries & Ries. "People feel patriotic and want to do something for the country."

Military officials say they realize the war and the new ads will not prompt an enlistment surge even though interest may increase.

"There is an urban myth that military enlistment surged after 9/11. That is not the case," said Army spokesman Paul Boyce. "Joining the military is a personal and voluntary commitment that takes much consideration."

Neither the Navy nor the Air Force is changing its campaign, and the Coast Guard didn't return calls for comment.

"Advertising isn't cheap," said Navy spokesman Lt. Bill Davis. "Our current campaign grabs young folks, and it's not easy to come up with another one."

The new Marine spot shows real footage of combat and training, with somber background music. Periodically interspersed in the footage are the credos: "For honor," "For courage," "For country." It ends with the longtime slogan "The Few. The Proud. The Marines." It cost $120,000 to produce.

Military analyst Daniel Goure isn't surprised by the Marines' new ad. He said they have always been the most media-savvy branch of the military, and this war has been a true showcase for them.

"You haven't heard this much about the Marines since Korea," said Goure, vice president of the Lexington Institute, a military think-tank.

The Army declined to say what its spot cost, but it also uses existing footage of real soldiers while patriotic tunes waft in the background.

Neither the Army, which spends about $45 million on TV ads, nor the Marines, which shell out about $25 million, increased their budgets to buy additional time. The war just happened to dovetail with a high season for military advertising, when the armed forces try to woo high school seniors undecided about their plans after graduation, and the Air Force, Navy, Marines and Army had already purchased a significant chunk of air time.

The Army began shifting its focus to highlight service to the country after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. It will continue running the ad introduced after the attacks, showing old Army footage followed by the slogan "Every generation has its heroes. This one is no different"

It ends with the three-year-old tag line, "An Army of One."

Earlier ads featured various career opportunities offered by the Army. One showed clips of medics, rangers, intelligence specialists and mechanics, ending with the slogan, "Over 200 ways to be an Army of one."

In contrast, the Marines have never featured career opportunities in their ads, and they will continue to run one with a Marine climbing a steep rock cliff with his bare hands and no gear. When he reaches the top, the ad says, "The passage is intense, but if you complete the journey, you will find your destiny among the world's greatest warriors."

Goure warns that while the ad campaigns bolster patriotism now, they risk looking inappropriate should the war take a dramatic turn for the worse.