The Central Intelligence Agency has come out of the cold and into the warm glow of Madison Avenue prose.
In strikingly unspooklike language the agency, whose 30-year history has been cloaked in secrecy, has begun advertising campaigns in 12 major newspapers, seeking people who want a "spirit of adventure" and can make "on-the-spot decisions."
It's the CIA's first venture into display advertising and the ads, which began running last weekend, come complete with the agency's own slogan: "It's time for us to know more about each other."
Its image battered by recent disclosures of illicit activities by agency operatives, the CIA placed the ads in hopes of getting more candidates for its entry-level spy positions. The ads, without mentioning the word "spy" or "agent" play on the mystique of overseas assignments and international intrigue.
"In these times of meaningless jobs, here's a career where you can make a difference," said an agency advertisement that appeared recently in the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Arkansas Gazette.
"You can rely on your wits...and...belong to a small, very special group of people doing a vital, meaningful job in the face of challenges and possible hardship," said another ad in last Sunday's Washington Post.
Similar ads, all designed by a Manhattan advertising agency, have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Atlanta Constitution, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Star, a CIA spokesman said.
"The response has been really remarkable," said Mike Russell, an executive at Ganor and Ducas, the firm that designed the ads. According to Russell, his firm, CIA field offices and newspaper advertising departments have been deluged with thousands of calls and resumes as a result of the campaign.
The positions that the ads mention pay $14,414 to $19,263 per year.
Until recently the CIA only placed small, low key ads in newspapers and college publications. Russell said, a new campaign, the advertising executive said the CIA is trying to dispel a "certain tarnsihed James Bond image" a perception of a "CIA person as someone with a wig and a mask and a silent gun."
"I think a lot of people thought the CIA gets its people by cloning them or [snatching] them off dark streets corners or something," said Russell. But the agency has to recruit candidates "like any other agency or corporation," said James Smith, the CIA chief deputy recruiter.
Despite a "new openness," CIA officials declined to reveal which ads drew the greatest response or the background of any applicants. "That would not be in the CIA's best interest," Smith said. CAPTION: Picture 1, Central Intelligence Agency, Were looking for you special men and women who still have a spirit of adventure; Picture 2, Central Intelligence Agency, If you want to be on the inside of international affairs, we have a job for you. The Washington Post