Army's newest recruiting campaign elicits 'wow' from young Soldiers
May 26, 2011
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Army News Service, May 26, 2011) -- The third phase of the "Army Strong" advertising campaign kicked off Wednesday night with an introduction by Col. Kenneth M. Sullivan, deputy commander, 1st Recruiting Brigade. Then Soldiers and their guests watched three 30-second spots projected onto the screen at the Hoffman AMC theater here.
'Wow' and applause rose from the crowd as they ended. Obviously a hit with the Army audience, the newest advertising campaign, "Symbol of Strength," will be seen by TV audiences beginning May 30.
The first phase of the campaign was known as "Army Strong," introduced in 2006, and the second phase was "Strength Like No Other."
"This is the third phase but I don't think it will be the last phase," Sullivan said. "This third phase shows the strength that can be gained by each individual person through education, opportunity, training and leadership."
Besides the spots, the Army is also unleashing social media and an interactive web presence for those thinking of joining.
"We are taking steps to connect our potential recruits with current Soldiers, whether it's through Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube or armystronstories.com, where Soldiers are invited to blog about their day-to-day life in the Army," said Bruce Jasurda, chief marketing officer for U.S. Army Accessions Command in a press release.
An added plus to this comprehensive campaign is a five-week cinematic tie-in with the upcoming film, "X-Men: First Class," from May 20 to June 23. This integrated video is showing in National CineMedia's "First Look" pre-feature program in more than 700 movie theaters across the country. At the end of the segment, viewers are directed to facebook.com/goarmy where they can learn about becoming Army Strong and hear exclusive X-Men voice content before its release.
"The X-Men has had a big following," said Sullivan, who introduced the TV commercials when Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, commanding general of the U.S. Army Accessions Command, couldn't make it because of tornado damage in Kentucky.
"It’s exciting because it draws our target audience of 17- to 25-year-olds to the movies. But also the story is about a bunch of average people doing extraordinary things and that’s what our Soldiers do. Put them in situations and they can do some unbelievable stuff for the good of the country and the world," Sullivan said.
The "Symbol of Strength" campaign's three spots each highlight an aspect of a Soldier's life, including education, leadership and opportunity.
"The themes of each commercial are linked. Education comes in many different forms: you go to school to get a degree. There’s the school of hard knocks. But what the Army provides is an education with a worldwide influence. So it’s not just books, it’s real life, hands-on training," Sullivan said.
Leadership, he said, is something easily talked about but not easily understood.
"Leadership is the ability to step forward and make decisions, give direction and purpose to people, the confidence to take charge of a situation and have a calming influence and a directing influence," Sullivan said.
The final spot, on opportunity, illustrates how the Army influences a Soldier to be a better person, he said.
"A lot of times, we all get in our ruts…we can’t see the forest for the trees. (But opportunity helps us) get out of that rut. Whether it’s education, learning about other people from our country as you integrate into the Army … you know, you take a kid from Arkansas and put him in a tent with a kid from New York, there’s cultures mixing right there, but they learn from each other. And they gain strength from each other," Sullivan said.
This third phase in an ongoing advertising campaign by the Army includes the now well-used social media.
"We’re always trying to reach out to the younger generation to show them new opportunities. Through this venue that we’re using today, the film industry and the social media … I mean, that’s where our kids reside nowadays. And this is a method to reach out and educate these young people to the opportunities and the potential the Army will give them in their lives," Sullivan said.
Social media, he said, is really a peer-to-peer influence. Using analogy, Sullivan describes what he means by this.
"We can advertise and we can tell you that we have the best food in this restaurant, but if someone puts one message on Twitter or Facebook that says, ‘don’t go there,’ that spreads faster than any campaign that an organization wants to spend money on.
"Facebook and social media has become a force of driving people to different markets or away from markets," Sullivan said.
The online chats are also a quick way to provide information.
"You know, if there’s a sale at the shoe store and you’re there at the shoe store and you put it on a chat, it’s there instantly, to all their friends and their connections and it becomes like a pond effect. When you throw a rock in a pond, that ripples on out and touches other circles and it spreads like wildfire. So, our imperative here is to get out the Army message correctly and efficiently, but broadcast it by people of like age groups that are already involved (in this new media)," he said.
But it's the uniform, he said, that was and is again a symbol of strength and trusted authority.
"You know, Soldiers coming back from Afghanistan or Iraq, walking through airports and the applause that they get, it represents something to this country. And there’s no other feeling like it, when you’re appreciated.
"The uniform means different things to different people. To me, it’s a chance to go to work with some of the finest people in America … people who have courage and leadership and the ability to make decisions.
"Our uniform has always been a symbol of strength, from George Washington’s time onward. This is just the next opening phase of a new campaign to reinforce that strength for our nation," Sullivan said.
To view the three spots, go to www.youtube.com/goarmyvideos.