Army unveils new advertising campaign

Twenty years after the Army first asked potential recruits to 'be all that they could be,' the service has launched a new advertising campaign that marks a shift in recruitment strategy. The Army hopes to reverse a string of lackluster recruiting years by creating a brand identity that resonates with 18- to 24-year-olds, using a new slogan, "An Army of One." The Army has fallen short of its recruiting goals two out of the last three years. In unveiling the "Army of One" campaign, the Army is also retiring "Be All That You Can Be" as its chief slogan, ending an advertising campaign that trade magazine Advertising Age ranked as the second-best of the 20th century. (The first was McDonald's' "You Deserve a Break Today" campaign.) The new campaign "illustrates the personal transformation that occurs when young men and women become soldiers and develop into leaders," said Army Secretary Louis Caldera at a Pentagon ceremony. "Today's youth want to feel empowered to make a difference individually and as a group." The "Army of One" campaign features real soldiers who represent the range of racial and ethnic backgrounds and occupations found in the Army. The first "Army of One" ad, featuring 22-year old Cpl. Richard Lovett, is online at the Army's revamped recruiting Web site and will make its television premier Thursday on NBC's "Friends." The new campaign is being managed by a trio of advertising agencies under a performance-based contract valued at approximately $100 million: Chicago-based Leo Burnett USA; Cartel Creativo, an Hispanic agency; and IMAGES USA, an African-American agency. The first ad depicts Lovett running through a desert while a voice says, "I am an army of one. Even though there are 1,045,690 soldiers just like me, I am my own force. With technology, with training, with support, who I am has become better than who I was." By highlighting the individual development of young soldiers like Lovett, the new ads aim to make the Army more appealing to young adults, Caldera said. "We need something that will attract people who aren't considering the Army today," Caldera said. " 'Be All That You Can Be' wasn't motivating to recruits. The idea of the 'Army of One'-that the strength of the Army lies in me, in one individual, connects with this group." "Army of One" ads were screened with groups of young people and in one-on-one settings to test their appeal, according to representatives of Leo Burnett USA. The advertising campaign will target print and television media used by young people, such as MTV. Cartel Creativo and IMAGES USA will coordinate advertising designed to reach minority audiences. While many of these advertising techniques have been previously used by the Marine Corps and the Navy, Leo Burnett officials say they did not look to the other services when devising the "Army of One" campaign. "What we needed to do was understand our target audience," said Linda Wolf, the firm's CEO. "From what we have seen, our target audience is totally intrigued by the personal stories of these soldiers." The Army has started a new branding office staffed by career advertising officials to work with Leo Burnett on the "Army of One" campaign. "An Army of One" is the fifth slogan the Army has used since it launched modern advertising campaigns 30 years ago. Previous slogans include: "Today's Army Wants to Join You," "Join the People Who've Joined the Army," "This is the Army" and "Be All That You Can Be."
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec