advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The few, the proud.

I’ve always loved this spot. Cool thing still about advertising is that even though it’s a small industry, you can end up working with someone who came up with spots like this and never know it. Long car rides to presentations tend to reveal things like that. In this case, the spot was a departure for the Marines in a post-911 world where maybe the appeal of a serve your country message was fading while the cost of college became real for people, not to mention you’re always selling death as a potential by-product of what it is you do. No easy task. Even though there was always this special vibe around them, they needed something bigger to reinforce the heritage of what they were and are, about.

Originally, the idea had far fewer soldiers standing in a large circle but still performing the sequence. Dark background, dim light, with them stepping back one step at the end. This would’ve created literal and figurative spaces that asked the viewer to fill that slot and become one of them. As they worked through it though, it still didn’t have the impact they were looking for. Twisting things somewhat, the theme then went from being about the Marines to being about the country, with the idea of “coast to coast” being part of the discussion. FF >> to Marines standing from one coast to the other. (That’s the extended version above.) 

Even though there was hesitancy internally about the direction, it clearly resonated with viewers. The subtle execution of the Army’s theme with parent > child discussion notwithstanding, the recruitment spots for the services have mostly now swung back to a G.I. Joe Chuck Norris action figure theme. I still remember how epic this spot felt though, and still does.


Dave said...

I heard or read somewhere that for the final shots near the Golden Gate bridge, city officials refused to grant a permit to film on the bridge.

The voiceover I'm not fond of. Over the top. Should've called me. But this is the best armed services ad ever.

mtlb said...

@Dave - Re: the filming as told to me:

“True. City Manager refused to allow the Marine Corps to shoot on the Golden Gate Bridge. Cited safety issues as reason, but had previously allowed other filming. Huge uproar, bloggers and radio shows called the city out as liberal and unpatriotic. Actual spot shows Marines with Golden Gate in background, but that view does not really exist. Scene was shot elsewhere and composited.”

awhitley said...

FYI, the spot involved the US Marines Silent Drill Platoon, who are the only people to use the rifles like this. Our team at JWT had to ask special permission of the command at Marine Barracks 8th and I, and borrow the SDP during legs of their summer tour season.

Here's the whole scoop on the San Fran thing -

The person who actually led the denial was SF Film Commission head Stephanie Coyote (no doubt, a great American). Surprisingly, many people (even locally in SF) weren't that happy with her commie (whoops, was that my inner monologue?) - I mean well-intended decision making: