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Marines May Retire Iconic Slogan ‘The Few … The Proud … The Marines’

After almost 40 years as one of the most recognized taglines in American advertising, "The Few ... The Proud ... The Marines," is likely to be reassigned next year to 1st Civ Div.

(That's the 1st Civilian Division — Marine slang for where Marines go in retirement.)

The tagline — which made its debut in 1977 and is widely considered one of the most successful ad campaigns of the 20th century — "does a great job distinguishing ourselves from the other branches and making us prestigious to recruits," Lt. Col. John Caldwell, a spokesman for Marine Corps Recruiting Command, told Marine Corps Times, a newspaper serving Marines and their families.

"But it doesn't say anything about what we do or why we exist," Caldwell told the newspaper.

J. Walter Thompson, the agency that created the tagline, is already working on ideas for a new Marine recruiting campaign, which Recruiting Command expects to submit to senior Marine leaders late this year or early next year, Caldwell said.

"The new products are going to frame everything that we do as a fight — a fight that we intend to win," he told Marine Corps Times.

IMAGE: Marine Corps tagline
U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Command

"The Few ... The Proud ... The Marines" appears on many lists of advertising's top slogans. In 2007, it was added to the Advertising Walk of Fame on Madison Avenue in New York.

So it would represent a significant milestone if Recruiting Command were to decide to drop the tagline, which the Defense Department's Task Force on Human Resources Strategy has cited as being "tremendously successful in creating a positive image" for the service.

"The Few ... The Proud ... The Marines" appears on many lists of advertising's top slogans. In 2007, it was added to the Advertising Walk of Fame on Madison Avenue in New York. And that sentiment was being reflected on conservative forums and message boards devoted to military topics and veterans.

Commentary was particularly unfavorable on NewsMax, the news site created by Christopher Ruddy, perhaps the best-known journalist to have doggedly pursued the various Clinton conspiracy theories.

One commenter observed: "That's governments job. Tear down anything 'proud' and 'few'." Said another: "The downfall of America continues unabated. Tragic."

Meanwhile, on AssaultWeb, which describes itself as a community of users devoted to American values, one commenter had more prosaic explanation for the initiative: bureaucracy.

The plan, according to this commenter, is simply the product of "too many butt kissers with too much time on their hands."