An Army of One Campaign Accomplishes Its Mission

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During the early to mid 1990s, the U.S. Army had little trouble attracting enough young men to enlist for military service. The collapse of the Soviet Union had all but ended, and the cold war and military warfare was becoming more high

All That You Can Army Campaign

tech, which meant that fewer soldiers were needed. Thus, the Army was downsized by 40 percent, making it easy to reach modest recruitment goals. Recruitment advertising used the "Be All That You Can Be" tagline and relied primarily on expensive television commercials to deliver the self-actualization message. The ads also emphasized how joining the Army provided opportunities for career training, college scholarships, and other financial incentives.

--While its recruitment marketing strategy worked well in the early to mid '90s, by the later part of the decade the Army found itself losing the battle to recruit America's youth. The military recruiting environment had changed as the booming economy of the '90s created many other opportunities for high school graduates. The Army's financial package was not enough to attract qualified recruits, and many high school graduates were not willing to endure the demands of basic training. However, the core challenge facing the Army was deeply rooted negative perceptions of the military. Research showed that 63 percent of young adults 17-24 said there was no way they would enlist in the military, and only 12 percent indicated an interest in military service. Comments such as, "not for people like me," "for losers," and, "only for those with no other options" were typical of the feelings young people held toward military service. Moreover, even for many of those who would consider enlisting in the service, the Army was their fourth choice among the branches of the military as it had major image problems on key attributes considered important in a posthigh school opportunity.

All of these factors resulted in the Army missing its recruiting goals three out of the five years during the late '90s, despite spending more money on recruitment advertising than any branch of the military. In early 2000, Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera announced that: "We are totally changing the way we do Army advertising. We have to adopt the kinds of practices that the best marketing companies use to attract today's youth." His new marketing strategy called for a new advertising campaign and a new media strategy that included less reliance on television ads and greater use of the Internet, and "e-recruiting" to complement the Army's transformation into a more mobile, high-tech force. In June of 2000, Caldera announced the hiring of Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, as its new agency, replacing Young & Rubicam which had created Army ads since 1987.

One of the first decisions facing Leo Burnett was whether to continue with the long running "Be All That You Can Be" tagline. Although highly recognizable, the agency felt that the tagline had lost its relevance with young adults and could not be used to reposition the Army and forge a connection with this target audience. The agency came up with a new advertising and positioning theme that would be the basis for the integrated marketing campaign—"An Army of One." The creative strategy behind the theme is that it would bring to the forefront the idea that soldiers are the Army's most important resource and highlight that each individual can and does make a difference; that his/her contributions are important to the success of the whole team. The "An Army of One" campaign would send a message that a soldier is not nameless or faceless, but part of a unified group of individuals who together create the strength of the U.S. Army.

A major goal of the "An Army of One" campaign is to provide young adults with an accurate look into what it means to be a soldier in today's Army. A key phase of the campaign was called "Basic Training" which uses a reality based television format made popular by the hit show Survivor. The unscripted TV spots feature brief profiles of six actual army recruits as they progress through basic training, giving viewers a glimpse of their personal experiences and opinions as they transform from civilians into soldiers. The ads also encourage prospective recruits to visit the Army website ( to experience a complete, in-depth multimedia "webisode" presentation including commentary from the recruits. The Web site was re-designed in early 2001 by Chemistri, an interactive agency which is a subsidiary of Leo Burnett, with the goal of making it a more effective recruitment tool. The site serves as a resource for potential recruits interested in learning about the Army and helps them overcome fears about basic training, increases their understanding of career opportunities available, and introduces them to soldiers similar to themselves.

The "An Army of One" campaign has been a great success. Although its media budget was 20 percent lower than the previous year, the Army fulfilled its 2001 recruiting goal of 115,000 new recruits one month early. Television, print, radio and online ads were effective in driving traffic to as visits to the Web site doubled and online leads were up by 75 percent. The Web site has won several awards including a prestigious Cannes Cyber Lion and has become a focal point for the Army's recruitment efforts. The overall "An Army of One" integrated campaign also won an Effie Award as one of the most effective marketing programs of the year. Mission accomplished.

Sources: 2002 Effie Awards Brief of Effectiveness, Leo Burnett USA; Kate MacArthur, "The 'Army of One' meets 'Survivor,'" Advertising Age, February 02, 2001; Michael McCarthy, "Army enlists Net to be all it can be," USA Today, April 19, 2000, p. 10B.

The opening vignette illustrates how the roles of advertising and other forms of promotion are changing in the modern world of marketing. In the past, marketers such as the U.S. Army relied primarily on advertising through traditional mass media to promote their products. Today many companies are taking a different approach to marketing and promotion: They integrate their advertising efforts with a variety of other communication techniques such as websites on the Internet, direct marketing, sales promotion, publicity and public relations (PR), and event sponsorships. They are also recognizing that these communication tools are most effective when they are coordinated with other elements of the marketing program.

The various marketing communication tools used by the U.S. Army as part of its recruitment efforts exemplify how marketers are using an integrated marketing communications approach to reach their customers. The U.S. Army runs recruitment advertising in a variety of media including television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and billboards. Banner ads on the Internet as well as in other media encourage consumers to visit the website which provides valuable information about the U.S. Army such as career paths, the enlistment process, and benefits (Exhibit 1-1). Direct marketing efforts include mailings to high school seniors and direct response

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Advertising With Circulars

Advertising With Circulars

Co-op Mailing means that two or more businesses share in the cost and distribution of a direct mail campaign. It's kind of like having you and another non-competing business split the cost of printing, assembling and mailing an advertising flyer to a shared same market base.

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  • Freddy
    How successful was the "be all that you can be" campaign?
    7 years ago
  • jason
    Why was the campaign" be all that you can be" for the army successful?
    7 years ago

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