Those were the days, my friend—

Black and white image of a 1970s Army Poster. Poster: Army jobs for Army veterans Campaign: Today's Army wants to join you.
Poster: Army jobs for Army veterans Campaign: Today's Army wants to join you.

One May morning in 1972 my manager phoned and said, “I’ve got a great gig for you. A four-hour photo shoot next week. It pays more per hour than you’ve ever earned with me. Four hours, twelve-hundred dollars. And, it’s for the Army. Their checks are gold.” The project was for a poster, Army Jobs for Army Veterans

After a two decade run—through most of the 50s and 60s—the Army’s tag line, Look Sharp, Be Sharp, Go Army! was due to be retired.

Today’s Army wants to join you:
Army Jobs for Army veterans.

In the early 70s the United States Army, more than any other branch of our country’s military, was quietly sticking its collective—terribly uninformed and paralyzingly frightened—toe into uncharted waters. N.W. Ayer & Son, as their advertising agency of record, led the Army’s effort to address diversity in recruiting an all-volunteer force. The slogan, Today’s Army Wants to Join You, was written in 1971 by Ayer’s Ted Regan Jr., Executive Vice President and Executive Creative Director.

General William Westmoreland, when presented with the Today’s Army slogan said, “Do we have to say it that way? Join them?” Ayer creatives had anticipated Westmoreland’s concerns and they collectively responded, “You must say it that way”. Westmoreland reluctantly agreed to the campaign (most likely because it was blindingly expensive and was well underway).

Even though it was a well-thought-out marketing effort, Today’s Army was short-lived and was changed to Join the people who’ve joined the Army less than a year later. Regan also wrote the Army’s follow-up slogan.

The Army’s check was gold, but their wardrobe and makeup departments didn’t have a clue. Not a clue.

Some years later my mom phoned, “Your poster is in Stripes.”
I paused, “I don’t know what that means.”
She sighed, “Last week your sister and I went to the movies. We saw Stripes.”
She continued on, “I didn’t think it was very funny. I don’t like Bill Murray. Your sister thought it was good, though.”
I was still clueless, “So, I’m not sure why…”
“Your Army poster is in it!”
“The Army poster…”
“You don’t have to believe me. It’s on film.”

My BrockelPoster makes an appearance in Stripes.

Three takeaways:
1) Mothers are always right and,
2) People see every detail in movies and,
3) Ignore the details at your own peril.

By Stephen Brockelman

As a Sr. Writer at T. Rowe Price, I work with a group of the best copywriters around. We belong to the broader creative team within Enterprise Creative, a part of Corporate Marketing Services. _____________________________________________ A long and winding road: My path to T. Rowe Price was more twisted than Fidelity’s green line. With scholarship in hand, I left Kansas at 18 to study theatre in New York. When my soap opera paychecks stopped coming from CBS and started coming from the show’s sponsor, Proctor & Gamble, I discovered the power of advertising and switched careers. Over the years I’ve owned an ad agency in San Francisco; worked for Norman Lear on All in the Family, Good Times, Sanford and Son, and the rest of his hit shows; and as a member of Directors Guild of America, I directed Desi Arnaz in his last television appearance— we remained friends until his death. In 1988 I began freelancing full time didn’t look back. In January 2012 my rep at Boss Group called and said, “I know you don’t want to commute and writing for the financial industry isn’t high on your wish list, but I have a gig with T. Rowe Price in Owings Mills…” I was a contractor for eight months, drank the corporate Kool-Aid, became a TRP associate that August, and today I find myself smiling more often than not.

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