An unconventional ad for an unconventional client

In 2006, Detroit-based advertising agency Campbell-Ewald was faced with a challenge. As part of the contract to provide the US Navy with advertising services, the agency was tasked to create a TV spot to boost the recruitment for the elite SEAL units. SEALs (whose acronym stays for Sea, Air, Land) are tasked with conducting various sensitive operations, including the collection of information during covert reconnaissance missions. So how did Campbell-Ewald go about the challenge?

“If the SEALs’ mission is that of seeing without being seen”, Campbell-Ewald’s people must have thought, “then the best way to publicize what these guys do is by not showing them at all!”

The agency hired director Stu Maschwitz to create the advert and the result was “Footprints,” an award-winning 30 seconds spot that Maschwitz  (who started out at George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic) called one of the best things he’s ever done. In May 2009, the Navy renewed its estimated $800 million, five-year recruiting advertising and marketing contract with Campbell-Ewald.


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