Army, Its Recruiting Not All It Could Be, Decides to Overhaul Its Advertising
With recruiters struggling to fill its ranks and with public perceptions of its role apparently blurring, the Army plans to overhaul its advertising and marketing campaign, among other steps ending its contract with Young & Rubicam after 12 years.
The most immediate
and perceptible effect of the changes, which the Army announced today,
may be the demise of ''Be All That You Can Be,'' its slogan for two
decades but one that officials said might no longer
'' 'Be All You Can Be' is a great slogan,'' said P. T. Henry, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs. ''It is the trademark of the Army, known around the world, and it has served the Army well. The question is, Is it the right slogan today to recruit young men and women for the Army of the 21st century?''
had a difficult time putting their finger on what it is about the slogan,
or its intended audience, that makes for a fit that is not quite
The Army's announcement underscored the nagging difficulties all the armed services are having signing up recruits at a time when the economy is booming and more young people than ever are finding college an attainable goal. Despite higher bonuses and grants for tuition, the services' recruiters have been scrambling, often unsuccessfully, to meet their recruiting goals in recent years.
In the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the Army missed its goal of 74,500 recruits by 6,291, an 8 percent shortfall, while the Air Force was shy of its goal of 32,673 by 1,727, or 5 percent. A year before, the Navy fell short by nearly 12 percent.
Young & Rubicam
took over the Army's advertising campaign in 1987 and built on the ''Be
All That You Can Be'' motto, which had been developed seven years earlier
by the advertising agency N. W. Ayer. Now the
The current contract,
worth about $14 million a year, was negotiated in 1997. It provided
for an initial year plus four options of one year each. Had the Army
kept renewing, the contract would have continued into the
The Army, whose
move was first reported in The Wall Street Journal today, said it would
now invite major advertising agencies to bid for a new contract that
would link payment to measurable results in enlistment
The service said
it hoped Young & Rubicam would compete for the new contract. But
officials at the agency sounded irked by the Army's handling of the
matter, particularly its decision to make a contract-termination announcement
now -- seven months before the end of the current option year -- rather
than use some of that time to work with the agency to
''We have not made
a decision yet as to whether we'll take part as the Army recompetes
the contract,'' said Bill Kelly, managing partner for the agency's U.S.
Army Group. ''We're not balking at recompeting. That's a
But he added, ''We have real issues with the process and the timing.''
While the Army's step is the most drastic so far, all the services have begun to rethink their advertising and marketing strategies after several years of recruiting difficulties.
No longer content with public service announcements, the Air Force last year began paying for television advertisements for the first time. So far the service has spent $29 million in the current fiscal year to put them on the air, though officials say it is too early to tell whether those spots have helped bolster enlistments.
And last fall the Navy took the unusual step of mailing letters to 65,000 retired sailors and officers, asking them to consider rejoining.
The Army's changes
grew in part from a study completed last fall for Secretary of Defense
William S. Cohen by two prominent political consultants: Carter D. Eskew,
a Democrat, and Michael R. Murphy, a Republican. The study criticized
the services, saying that in addition
The Army announced
today that it was creating a marketing division to do just that. It
also plans to hire market research firms to devise ways to learn more
about attitudes and tastes of young people so that its
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