U.S. Army Launches Full Agency Review for Account Worth Up to $4 Billion

McCann Worldgroup will defend the business

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This week the U.S. Army issued an RFP for full-service agencies to handle its marketing efforts. The review initially launched in late 2014 but saw significant delays after the organization chose to extend a longstanding relationship with McCann Worldgroup by nearly one-and-a-half years beyond its original expiration date.

An army spokesperson confirmed that the contract resulting from this review could last up to 10 years, with a spending ceiling not to exceed $4 billion. Annual budgets will vary, though a spokesperson estimated in November 2014 that the organization spends between $184 and $200 million on marketing each year.

According to the solicitation document, the Army seeks a partner to create "a nationwide advertisement campaign for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army as executed by the Army Marketing and Research Group." The purpose of these efforts will be to recruit and retain personnel to serve in the Active Army, Army Reserve, Army Civilian workforce, and the Army National Guard by "transform[ing] the mindset of the target audiences."

The winning agency network will provide an overarching strategic template along with services including creative, media planning and buying, public relations, social media, event marketing and related promotions. Over time, it may also handle influencer marketing and multicultural campaigns as needed. Interested shops must respond by Feb. 3, 2017 for an assignment that will begin this September.

McCann has worked for the Army since 2005 and retained the business in a 2011 review, beating out Grey, Y&R and FCB. The network serving its account currently includes hundreds of employees at 11 different IPG agencies including MRM//McCann, Weber Shandwick, UM, Momentum and more.

An agency spokesperson deferred to the client for comment, though sources tell Adweek that McCann will defend the business in the review. 

Because of their length and reliability, U.S. government contracts are both valuable and, at times, controversial. Last September, The Wall Street Journal acquired documents indicating that Y&R may have won the U.S. Census account after submitting a bid more than 50 percent lower than those of its rivals. Y&R, which declined to comment on those claims, also serves as agency of record for the U.S. Navy.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.