Parents: Let the Army Finish the Job for You

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Parents: Let the Army Finish the Job for You

"But, Dad, no one has a better eye for
picking out useful pieces of scrap metal
in an Iraqi salvage yard than I do."

Seth Stevenson of informs us of the stellar new TV ads that the Army is hoping will help them meet future recruiting targets:
The Army has a numbers problem. Enlistment rates are falling short of where they need to be .... Time to revamp the marketing campaign.

Recently, the "Army of One" spots showed off some of the awesome, adrenaline-pumping jobs that soldiers can have — mostly jobs that don't involve being shot at.

... this new set of four ads (one of them is in Spanish) takes a quieter approach. Gone are all the choppers and night-vision goggles. They've been replaced by kitchen tables and conversations. This campaign seems aimed less at potential recruits than at their parents.

... Apparently, most kids won't enlist until they've had a serious talk with Mom and Dad (or a teacher, or a coach). These ads are meant to make that talk go down easier. Good luck.

... So, how does the Army assuage [parents'] concerns? It doesn't. It just sidesteps the improvised explosive device in the middle of the room.

In one ad, a kid yammers on about the training he'll get. In another, a son tells his mom that the Army will pay for college. OK, so what? We knew about these perks already. Job skills and money are a terrific lure in peacetime, but I don't think they outweigh the fear of getting both arms blown off. Especially in a parent's mind.

Much more interesting is the ad called "Two Things," in which a man and (presumably) his son have a talk on their porch .... They lean on the railing, shoulder to shoulder. I love the tiny moment when the kid gulps as he realizes his father's about to say something meaningful.

... [Dad] doesn't seem too worried about the risk of bodily harm to his kid (never mind the moral underpinnings of the war). He's far more interested in his son's improved handshake etiquette. The Army will mold your boy into a stand-up guy with a manly bearing, the ad seems to say, and what could be more important than that?

... The Army has at last been repositioned as a finishing school. You've done the best you can, Mom and Dad, but it's time to let the service raise him right.
Maybe they should bring back the "Army of One" tagline. At the rate that the Iraq war is going, one may be the most realistic number for Army recruiters to use for their quarterly recruiting goals.

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