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Thursday, December 08, 2005

$1.35 BILLION for Army Recruitment Ads?!

Yesterday the U.S. Army hired a new ad agency, McCann Erickson, according to Ad Age. The budget: $1.35 billion to be spent on ads to recruit for active duty and the Reserve. That’s right, more than a BILLION dollars.

This decision comes at a time when the marketing industry recognizes that conventional advertising is not effective, particularly if the value prop is weak. (Or if you’re being recruited to go to Iraq, maybe a non-existent value prop.)

Is there a better way to spend $1.35 billion of our money?

Use a slice of the money to figure out how to get out of Iraq sooner; then we wouldn't have to recruit so many people. Despite its advertising and aggressive recruiting,
the Army missed its recruitment target this year by 7,000, according to a report in today's N.Y. Times. Maybe no amount of advertising is going to work. Like Vietnam, people don’t believe much in the military's cause. And if they don’t believe, they’re not going to join.
Create an online community where active duty Army professionals can talk to
those with a possible interest? Let the people who know the value of being in
the Army – and have the most credibility – tell the story vs. ads?
The goal of the Army is to recruit 80,000 new soldiers a year. Divide 80,000
into $1.35 billion and you get $1,687.50. If the army upped the signing
incentives by another $1,687.50 would that be as effective as advertising?
Reinstate the draft. Give full college scholarships to everyone who serves. Make the military reflective of a democratic society. The added benefit: the middle and upper class would be mad as hell and would get more involved in government’s decisions. (As the mother of a young son, I hate to think of a draft....)

Maybe some of these things are already happening. I’d sure feel better knowing that the Army has looked at alternatives before committing $1.35 BILLION on trying to market something no one wants to buy.


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