According to military analysts, the Army’s new branding campaign, presented on Wednesday, avoided social justice and diversity themes to reverse a record decline in recruiting.
Experts and politicians worry that the acceptance of identity politics by the service might alienate conservative families, who have traditionally functioned as the military’s main recruitment base, and compound the service’s recruiting troubles in the fiscal year 2022. Experts in military readiness stated that the years-long rebranding effort, which aims to highlight the Army’s history of defense and innovation and encourage soldiers to push their boundaries, might help the Army accomplish its lofty recruiting targets for 2023.
Heritage Foundation director Thomas Spoehr told the Daily Caller News Foundation that he believes the new brand and ad will better appeal to young people’s desire to be a part of a major, meaningful effort larger than themselves. He also believes that this new approach is the best course of action.
According to Task & Purpose, the Army has come under fire for embracing perceived left-wing principles in its branding. A 2021 advertising campaign, for instance, highlighted the diverse types of individuals who may join the program by spotlighting a same-sex family.
According to the president of the Center for Military Readiness, Elaine Donnelly, the trend toward left-wing education and personnel policy within the military to support “diversity as a strategic imperative,” such as emphasizing LGBTQ+ servicemember inclusion, increasing outreach to minorities and teaching CRT and pronoun advice at the military academies, resulted in conservative, mostly white families believing they were not welcomed or appreciated in the military.
She added that military service was not being promoted by parents and army veterans who are ‘influencers,'” The Army realized it would not meet its recruiting objectives for 2022 and realized that it needs to change.
Two advertisements launched on Wednesday, however, featured an ethnically diverse ensemble. At a gathering with Army officials promoting the rebranding, the term “diversity” was only once about the variety of career fields within the Army.
The Army’s identity-based marketing has been a recruiting catastrophe; therefore, they are changing it. Rep. Jim Banks, a Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee and has vowed to crack down on wokeness in the military, stated that the Army and all branches of the military need to appeal to Americans regardless of their political beliefs.
The new campaign reintroduces the slogan, “be all you can be,” which served as a marketing and recruiting tool from 1981 to 2001 and emphasizes the Army’s opportunities for personal and professional development. It also requires eliminating the box surrounding the Army’s five-pointed star logo.
The new ads lead viewers through colonial militias during the Revolutionary War to the present missions meant to oppose a rising China. Spectators will be guided through the history of the U.S. Army in two new 90-second ads accompanying the rebranding. The ads emphasize “overcoming difficulties” and advancing into the future with new technologies that enhance the security of the country and improve citizens’ lives.
Spoehr stated that you might say that the new brand is “unwoke” because there is no indication that the Army is more engaged in one group than another.
According to Donnelly, the visuals of history in the new commercial ring true, but she hopes that Critical Race Theory (CRT) radicals don’t get the opportunity to derail what may progress in reconnecting with traditional families that view America as a beautiful country and not a racist one.
Col. John Horning, who directs marketing and strategy for the Army Enterprise Marketing Office, noted to Army Times that two past marketing initiatives under the most current branding scheme appeared to alienate some target audiences.
Horning stated that the “What’s Your Warrior” ad series debuted in 2019, intending to showcase the vast array of job sectors available in the Army, showing that prospective audiences were turned off by its aggressive tone.
Some conservative viewers criticized “The Calling,” an anime-style video series launched in 2021. Even with “The Calling,” Horning told Army Times that there was a future audience who related to it. He stated that the Army was acutely aware that it touched a chord. It became a distraction because some individuals did not relate to what we were attempting to do.
A series of videos featured a potential recruit called Emma witnessing the wedding of her “two lovely and encouraging mums.” According to Task and Purpose, the Army intended the commercials to appeal to Gen Z audiences as the recruiting pool becomes increasingly shallow. Instead, opponents launched a storm of criticism against the videos for depicting what they saw to be a “woke” and “feminized” military.
Donnelly stated that the advertisements forgot that the key market for Army recruitment is young males from traditional households seeking a challenge. This monumental blunder contributed to last year’s recruiting problem.
According to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, the Army missed its 2022 recruitment goal of 60,000 new members or by 25 percent; to make up for this shortfall, the Army established a “stretch goal” for 2023 of 65,000 recruits. Wormuth revealed during Wednesday’s gathering that the Army hastened the rollout of its new branding initiative to aid in 2023 recruitment. She stated that the new campaign’s execution cost approximately $117 million, resulting from extensive work that included focus groups with relevant stakeholders. Yet, executives are sure that a data-driven strategy will produce outcomes.
Republican legislators believe that the U.S. requires an Army that demonstrates its ability to combat and deter enemy aggression, not one that stresses inclusivity over competency and lowers standards to accommodate more self-described identities.
As recruitment appeared to decrease in the spring and summer of 2022, the military polled 16- to 28-year-old Americans to determine why they were selecting alternatives to military service. Respondents named “putting their life on wait” as their primary worry, Grinston, the Army’s senior enlisted leader, said to Congress on Thursday.
He disputed that Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) policies have a negative impact on recruitment. In light of the poll results, Army chief of marketing Maj. Gen. Alex Fink told The Associated Press they just don’t regard the Army as being in touch with the current, daily culture they’re accustomed to.
Nevertheless, the propensity to serve has been at its lowest level in the past 15 years. Grinston stated that just 9% of young people indicate a desire or inclination to join the Army; of those, only 23% fulfill physical, academic, and legal requirements, a decrease from 28%.
Offering bonuses in the hundreds of dollars for successful referrals and the desire of recruits to ship out within 45 days of enrollment, the Army increased its messaging on the rewards and career prospects accessible to troops in 2022 and 2023. It invested in health care, education support, and vacation time. It pleaded with legislators to set aside cash for housing aid, child care, and spouse career assistance to retain recruits.
It also wants to increase possibilities for interested candidates to complete pre-enlistment programs that provide extra physical training and academic tutoring for individuals who do not meet the Army’s criteria in these areas.
Spoehr stated that none of these measures appeared to have significantly impacted recruitment. Spoehr told the DCNF he believes the Army (and other services) are discovering that recruiting messaging that emphasizes money and perks is ineffective.
According to General McConville, over 84% of recruits are from military households. So, they will become a military family business. The Army wants to remain an American family-owned company, he told reporters on Wednesday. McConville stated that they need every young person and every parent in this nation to realize that the United States military is a route to success.