Woman in military next to fatherWoman in military next to father

MullenLowe has retained a military contract that could total $454 million over six years.

Defense Human Resources Activity, which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense, has awarded the Interpublic Group of Cos. agency a five-year contract with an option to add an additional year. MullenLowe retained the account following a review that included seven other participants, according to an RFP obtained by Ad Age. The maximum value of the account—whether it spans five or six years—is $454 million, according to the document.

The scope of the contract, according to the RFP, includes brand planning and other marketing efforts in support of the government’s Joint Advertising, Market Research & Studies program (JAMRS), which is focused on recruiting volunteers for all branches of the military. In particular, the program focuses on marketing efforts to raise awareness and garner interest in the military among “youth and the adults who influence them,” the RFP stated.

Years of Work

MullenLowe has been working on the JAMRS program for over 20 years. It has created Effie-winning campaigns for the effort, including its “Their Tomorrow" campaign that picked up a Gold Effie in the Sustained Success category last year. In 2021, MullenLowe won a Silver Effie for creating an online game that encouraged players to consider cybersecurity careers within the military.

“We’ve been the steward of the brand for more than 20 years, working closely with JAMRS and all six service branches to tell stories of young people pursuing their callings and making a difference in the military,” said Don Lorenzet, a senior VP at MullenLowe who leads the JAMRS business, in a statement. “Together we have produced impactful and effective work to educate and enlighten parents and youth about the rewarding career opportunities and personal fulfillment military service provides.”

A spokeswoman for MullenLowe confirmed the account’s value is a “significant increase” from its prior contract, but declined to share a specific dollar figure.

The winning agency “shall provide a full range of marketing, corporate branding, and communications services,” the RFP read. "These include advertising, direct marketing, leads, and marketing database certification and management, integrated media negotiation and buying (to include national TV, nonlinear TV, digital, and social media), website development and maintenance, interactive (digital) marketing, public relations, and brand strategy/research."

It continued: “These services shall complement and support the highly specialized recruiting and retention efforts of the Military Services (i.e. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, and their Active, Guard and Reserve components).”

The U.S. military has had serious recruiting challenges over the past few years. In September, Military.com reported that the Army is expected to be about 10,000 recruits short of its goal to sign on 65,000 new active-duty soldiers. This is a slight improvement: Last year it was 15,000 recruits short of its 60,000 active-duty soldiers goal. Military.com also reported that the Air Force is expected to miss its recruiting goal for the first time in over 20 years.

There have been a multitude of reasons for the struggles, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, such as a competitive job market, a lack of in-person recruiting during the pandemic, stricter qualifications for military service, and a growing population of young adults who are less informed or interested in military service.

Originally published on Ad Age.