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Army hopes ads for quality recruits will be a winner

Rina Chandran

CHENNAI, Oct. 9

HE is an achiever, leader, gentleman, patriot, saviour, sportsman, pilot, manager, engineer and a role model. He also is an army man. Lowe's new advertising campaign for the Indian Army focuses on the many facets of the Army man in an attempt to refresh the image of the Army in the eyes of potential recruits, and get more high-quality applicants.

"The perception of the Army is that it is a low-paying, fuddy-duddy place where you do PT," said Mr Guneet Singh Lehl, Vice-President, Lowe Lintas, which won the account in a pitch early this year. "The reality is that the pay is quite good, and there's a lot of training in tech and management." Still, there is a higher purpose to joining the army, he added, which is reflected in the campaign's tagline: "Be an Army Man. Be a Winner for Life."

The Indian Army account was previously handled by JWT, which did an excellent job of establishing the Army as a possible career option, said Mr Lehl, whose father, incidentally, is in the Army. "But the ads only asked, `Do you have it in you?' They did not say what the Army could do for its people," he pointed out.

Lowe, therefore, surveyed Army men and civilians, and found that there was a mismatch between what the Army did, and what it was perceived to do, for its people. Also, while it is highly respected, especially in times of crisis, people still do not consider the Army as a serious career choice, and there is a dearth of applicants with the "officer-like quality" that the army looks for. "The Army has a very stringent selection process, which judges a candidate's physical, mental and personality traits," Mr Lehl said. "They cannot lower their standards, but they can project a better image of the Army."

The agency's task was thus two-fold: refresh the image of the Army to induce more youngsters to join it, and highlight the perks and benefits such as education and healthcare besides the adventure and glory.

"We need to convince the parents, who will encourage their children only if they think their life will be made by joining the Army," Mr Lehl said.

Lowe's campaign comprises five TV commercials and nine print ads, which were launched in the major media in late August. Mr Lehl estimates the cost of the campaign to be about Rs 5 crore. There are specific ads for the short service commission and engineers, as well as general image ads. In the TV spot for engineers, a man confidently answers questions in an IT class, and says he is a major on study leave. The scene in the classroom is interspersed with shots of the field, where soldiers are seen using high-tech equipment. The supers read: Satellite communications, simulations, microelectronics, super computers, weapon systems."The aim was to show that the Army is a very modern, sophisticated, high-tech organisation," Mr. Lehl said. In another spot, an Army man is seen handling a crisis in a factory, with flashes of him motivating jawans on the field; a third spot has an Army man helping an accident victim on the road, with scenes of him helping a wounded soldier on the field, and another spot shows an Army man breaking up a scuffle on the road merely by looking at the pair.

"The films show that the kind of skills you learn in the Army can be used in everyday life," Mr Lehl said. "We want to tell the youth that the Army gives you skills and qualities to make you a winner even outside the Army, for life."

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