Army Marketing: Army Strong — But Will It Make a Difference?


The Army has a new slogan: Army Strong.


Army StrongThis replaces the Army of One nonsense we have endured for the last 5 years. Your Business Blogger/Old Soldier is delighted with the new verbiage.

Robert Burns, the AP Military Writer reports,

Army officials said the switch did not mean the “Army of One” slogan was a loser, but many have criticized it.

Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute research group, said the previous slogan seemed to promote the notion that you could join the Army and preserve your individuality.

“If you want to be an ‘Army of One’ you probably want to join the Hell’s Angels, not the U.S. Army,” he said.

The new war chant is a better descriptor; more authentic as the academics say. And is guaranteed to win advertising awards as it should.

The Washington Post reports on the $200 million a year ad campaign where the,

New York advertising firm McCann Erickson designed the campaign after winning the two-year Army contract, which can be renewed for three additional years.

The ads were tested on hundreds of soldiers, although studies show that it is difficult for the military to gain an accurate measure of the effectiveness of advertising, which is relatively expensive compared with other recruiting tools such as educational benefits and bonuses.

All of marketing, including military, should be measured against a matrix of benchmarks for grading a return on investment.

[Goodness, look-it all those buzz phrases strung together. How impressive!…I’ll have to raise my fees.]

The measure of success in this marketing campaign with the new catch-phrase is in the number of recruits as compared to a like-time frame with the old slogan.

I am not persuaded that the Army Strong campaign will increase the recruiting numbers of the Army.


Heartbeat of AmericaThe Army Strong marketing mirrors the marketing done by Chevrolet with the Heart Beat of America branding from 1987 to 1994.

The genius of Sean K. Fitzpatrick was recognized by a number of awards for Chevrolet’s Heartbeat of America advertising effort.

Interestly, singer songwriter Robin Batteau wrote and sang both Chevrolet’s “Heartbeat of America” and “Be All You Can Be” for the US Army.

Steve Coomes, writes in Pizza Marketplace Image isn’t everything,

The Heartbeat of America, Chevrolet.

It’s not only one of the most memorable ad slogans of the 1980s, it was an advertising industry award winner.

And yet it failed miserably….

“That’s a perfect example of image advertising,” said Cavalloro, whose company, Performance Marketing, is based in Algonac, Mich. “Image advertising is the type of advertising that focuses more on the aesthetics and the artistic quality of an ad. It doesn’t get the reader to take action.”

(Marketing: Pizza, Chevy, Army. Ain’t America great or what.)

As it happens, I drove a Chevy Celebrity during the Heartbeat heyday. Not by choice. It was a company car. It was not, shall I say, reliable transportation.

So, Heartbeat of America won awards and cost millions of dollars. But Chevrolet sales dropped 17 percent in Heartbeat’s first year.

Great slogan. Crappy cars.

My concern is that advertising history will be repeated: The Pentagon will have terrific, award winning eye-wash. But that the results of the slogan’s effectiveness will be poor. Recruitment will remain a challenge.

Not because of a poor product. The Army output is outstanding. No. Recruitment will remain problematic — not because the Army is a difficult lifestyle. Or there is a war and you might die. Not because the Army is too hard.

No. Recruitment will falter because the Army is now seen as being too easy. Too soft.

Even girls can do it.


Women Loving WeaponsRecruitment will be troublesome because the Army is using double standards — different standards for men and women. For example,

Army men must do 75 push-ups…and run two miles in 13 minutes. Women soldiers must do 46 push-ups…and run two miles in 15:35.

The Army has soft, gentle, kinder standards for females. Double standards. New slogans will not fix this policy.


Thank you (foot)notes:

Management Training Tip: When recruiting new talent, don’t make the job sound easy. Make the job a challenge.

See the Chevy icon in…China.


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3 Responses

  1. Doug says:

    You’re close, Jack, when you point out the differing physical fitness standards for men and women but I believe that you miss the true issue. The Army hasn’t become soft because it makes allowances for any real or perceived physiological differences between men and women; it’s become soft because if has failed to enact and enforce realistic physical performance standards for each job, from infantryman to cook to tanker to clerk.

    Correcting this would be a fairly straightforward process. Set a standard, test to that standard, and assign soldiers based on their ability to meet that standard. Not that I expect it to happen anytime in the foreseeable future, of course….

  2. Not much use in the army, but women make great fighter pilots. Less vertical distance between heart and brain, makes them more resistant than males to the effects of acceleration in manuvers.

    Recruitment will remain a problem for just one of the reasons you dismissed. People dont want to die. There is a war on now, and a constant stream of casualties, so the risk of death – however small it really is – looks very real.

    It needs a correspondingly strong motivation to get people to sign up. The most effective by far in the US is patriotism – of all the slogans used, the old ‘Your country needs YOU!’ must be one of the most effective.

    Blind patriotism is the best type for recruitment – you dont want the soldiers to have any doubt that they are on the side of Good, battling Evil. A polarised, us-v-them, with-us-or-against-us view is just what they need to slaughter the enemy without any type of problems with concionce.

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