Monday, August 22, 2005

Selling the Army

I predict military recruitment and counterrecruitment will grow to a major national issue in the coming year. It's urgent, not just because young people are fighting and dying in an unjust war, but because of the hole it shows in America's priorities: Instead of investment in and opportunity for young people, the best-funded arm of the government offers enlistment.
Today, here is Seth Stevenson in Slate on the new Army commercials: lame and disingenuous. And here is Bob Herbert in the Times:

The youngsters recruited most relentlessly are those from small towns, rural areas and impoverished urban neighborhoods. They are kids who are not well-to-do, and who don't have much of a plan for their future. The military, with its uniforms, its slick ads and its video games, can look very good to these unsophisticated youngsters.

With a series of television ads, the Army is also trying to win over what it calls the "influencers," the parents and other adults who have been counseling youngsters to stay away from the military. That campaign was packaged by the Leo Burnett agency, which has the following to say about itself:

"Leo Burnett USA creates ideas that inspire enduring belief for many of the world's most valuable brands and most successful marketers, including McDonald's, Disney, Procter & Gamble, Marlboro, Altoids, Heinz, Kellogg, Nintendo and the U.S. Army."

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