The following document will discuss Army advertising and techniques for recruitment, national motivators, and operational security through the history of the Army. The Army utilizes propaganda and advertising similarly to commercial corporations. The Army uses this tactic because they recruit from the same population pool as industry and businss in the US.
The United States Army has been advertising for recruitment since the inception of the Army, nearly 237 years ago. The Civil War provided a number of recruitment posters targeting immigrants and black males and providing an opportunity to serve for the Union Army. Military age males were offered bonuses, short enlistment contracts, or other incentives to serve in their ranks. These posters would have been appealing to any male due to a bad economy and a war torn country.
World War I provided us with the most famous recruiting poster of all times which is Uncle Sam pointing and stating, “I Want You!” Over four million posters were sold from 1917 and 1918 (The Library of Congress, n.d.). The poster was aimed not only at a need for men to support the war effort but also materials. The technique used in this poster is charisma. The text message is America needs you. The subtext makes this personal with the inference indicated by “Uncle Sam” pointing at the individual reading the poster.
Victory Gardens were introduced during WWI and also used in World War II. The gardens provided food to the American population and supported the home front effort aimed at men serving overseas. This campaign may have been the first national motivator.
World War II provided us with the first posters that recruited women. While women did not participate in combat, they did provide required labor needed to support the war effort. The iconic “Rosie the Riveter” is in the top twenty of the Ad Council’s campaign efforts (Advertising Educational Foundation, n.d.). Rosie did not just recruit women to support the war effort but she also recruited them into the work force. Today she remains an icon for women and their “economic power” (The Library of Congress, n.d.).
The use of news reels during intermission or between films at cinemas across the US was widely used during WWII. The targeted audience of news reels were males ages 17 to 26 for the Army Air Corps. A variety of skills are depicted by soldiers on the job. The use of association in the news real has been a primary technique used by the Army and is continued in use today.
The use of ads for operational security began with WWI and the slogan “A Slip of the Lip Will Sink a Ship.” The poster has been slightly updated and today’s slogan reads, “Loose Lips Sink Ships.” It uses consequences as a form of fear. The introduction of Facebook provides new insight but still uses “fear” and consequences as an advertising technique.
The world of advertising for the Army has changed with society. The enlisted and officer corps commercials target men and women in their twenties, associate who they are with a career or skill, and charisma to persuade individuals to enlist or commission with the U.S. Army.
Army advertising has maintained a common thread in advertising through the years and the Army’s associate is “strong.” Rosie the Riveter was initially a recruiting poster but has lasted through the years because she represented the strength of women then and now. The techniques the Army has used over the years has produced results and the common threads are consistently used in modern media (apps, Facebook, Twitter, radio, etc.). This may be a simple case of “adapt and overcome” to coin an Army phrase.
The major adversary the Army faces in recruiting is competition with industry and business. The Army launches million dollar advertisement campaigns while local industry/business take applications at job fairs, online, fax, etc. Industry/business do not have the same resources to recruit a desired employee but instead hire from a pool of applicants. This situation gives me a dilemma from the perspective of “Who has the better hiring tool” in relationship to cost effectiveness?
The war in Iraq has ended and troops will be reduced as the war in Afghanistan draws to a close and recruiting will become important. The Army will only select the brightest and most capable men and women to serve in the Army (enlisted or officer). Incentives will be or have been reduced for many career fields. I do not expect the Army to change their advertisements and will continue to recruit using the current techniques.
The Library of Congress. (n.d.). American treasures of the library of congress. Retrieved from http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm015.html
Advertising Educational Foundation. (n.d.). Women in war jobs — Rosie teh riveter (1942-1945). Retrieved from http://www.aef.com/exhibits/social_responsibility/ad_council/2150