North Texas Daily

The military should be more genuine in the way they advertise

The military should be more genuine in the way they advertise

The military should be more genuine in the way they advertise
April 16
16:00 2021

Catchy music, animated shots of soldiers performing stylized tasks with inspiring messages overlayed and a culminating wide shot of soldiers ready to face some unseen threat with a “What’s Your Warrior” title. The commercial then ends, but instead of showing a “Rated M for Mature” ESRB label or the PlayStation logo, it ends with the web address and logo for the U.S Army.

This commercial is part of the Army’s “What’s Your Warrior” advertising campaign they rolled out on Veterans Day in 2019, intending to reach recruitable men and women of Generation Z. The Army crafted the campaign to showcase the varying roles both in and out of combat, stylizing them specifically to appeal to a younger crowd.

That is, of course, the purpose of advertising and how to do it well. Find a market to sell to, and then determine how best to reach that particular market.

However, this is not selling a new video game or the new biggest action movie. This is selling a calling and a vocation that can have far-reaching impacts on a person’s life. It should not be boiled down and packaged in a way that misconstrues the commitment one makes to the military and how one will serve in it.

The advertments that the Army has created convey a life of adventure that misrepresents the experience that many enlist will have. It creates a narrative of flying helicopters, shooting sniper rifles and parachuting, in what can only be boiled down to the life of some sort of super-soldier.

All the military branches use stylization in their advertising to accentuate traits associated with them. They are selling the concept of serving as a marine, a soldier, a sailor or an airman without showing the position’s true content.

The Marines use narratives of people rejecting society to become a part of something bigger than themselves, essentially painting marines as iron forged warriors. The Airforce use dramatizations of open conflict with jets flying overhead and videos of pilots executing drone strikes to show off the military superiority of the U.S. Airforce. The Navy uses its advertisements to imply it can provide adventure to those suffering from wanderlust.

Glamorized military advertisements are misinformation that verges on propaganda. The military designs these advertisements to excite those who have already decided to join the military, not to present any meaningful information.

In addition to crafting advertisements to pique younger people’s interests, the military also offers obscene amounts of money as enlistment bonuses, essentially creating a sort of coercion veiled as a financial incentive. This incentive is then muddled as recruits do not learn the actual amount they will receive until right before they sign their contract, with few recruits receiving the total amount advertised.

It is important to remember that military service creates an opportunity for social mobility, and military advertising helps make that happen. Recruits can pull themselves out of impoverished areas by learning skills in the military and taking advantage of government programs that pay for tuition or offer favorable home loans instead.

Featured Illustration by Pooja Patel

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Steven Nickols

Steven Nickols

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