Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mad Men.

The Valanx is a prototype light armored vehicle designed by BAE Systems to replace the Humvee as the US military's primary small transport vehicle. At this point only two companies are in the running to become the sole supplier of the military's new transport system (Lockheed Martin is the other candidate). Analysts estimate that the winning contract could be worth $20 billion, and that does not include the potential future contracts with foreign militaries or the possibility of civilian crossover sales.

Now that's all fine and good, just another defense contract competition that may or may not drag on for years like the current Air Force air refueling tanker dispute. (Google it if you want, I don't have a handy link to put in for you.)

The real issue I have is the recent public advertising campaign by BAE Systems for the Valanx. Ad space has been bought inside Metro cars to promote the Valanx. The ads are simple, a three quarters shot of the vehicle with the tag line, "Move Over," at the top.

It was actually my friend Ben, visiting from California who pointed out how strange it was that a defense contractor bidding on an exclusive military contract would choose to spend marketing money on public ads that seemed aimed at Metro riders on a busy commute. I just assumed that BAE Systems wanted this contract so badly that they were willing to gamble on placing the ads in the Metro with the hopes that some Pentagon employs in the aquisitions division will see the posters and be influenced. Stuck on a crowded train in the morning on the way to work, these civil servant accountants will see the aggressive lines of the Valanx and think, "Yeah, MOVE OVER! Let's buy 30,000 of these things."

I suppose stranger things have happened.


Anonymous said...

If you make a brand a household name, it influences the politics of acquisition. Think of the fallout is Lockheed Martin lost a major contract to an unknown company and they protested- the public would likely fall on LM's side simply because of their name brand.

Also- marketing costs cannot be billed to the government, so no need to worry if taxpayer dollars are being wasted

Adam said...

I wasn't really worried about the costs to taxpayers, it just seemed like a bit of a hail Mary approach to getting a contract. But you make a good point about branding.

Noel said...

To me, the very ad, and especially the "Move over" tag, was scary. I mean, if the military/government wanted to put attitude right in our faces as we ride along to our jobs, if they really want us to know who's in charge, they couldn't do a better ad than this one. It reeks of the kind of obnoxious Madison Ave. approach we have all seen on car commercials on TV, but is also unpretty and grim and designed to instill fear, in a "new world order" capacity, if you know what I mean. It's Homeland Security, it's FEMA..."we can do what we want and damned soon you'll be so used to it you'll think it's your right. Change is right behind you, flashing its high-beams."

Adam said...

Well, I don't really get what you mean. This was not an ad by the government or the military, this was targeted at people who work for those entities. I don't think it's about intimidating US citizens, I think it's more about trying to make geeks in the acquisitions department feel like they're cool.

Noel said...

The best maneuvers have a dual purpose. Look also at the ads in Metro stations for Monsanto and for reporting crimes. It all gives a creepy appearance of accommodation to a new reality.