Army Strong, Offer Stronger

If you think your client’s product is a tough sell, try selling the Army in the fifth year of a war. Today’s Wall Street Journal looks at the new approaches the Army is taking–appealing to Mom and Dad in order to sign up Junior:

The Army has been enlisting youths for decades by promising them money for college. Starting in January, it will try out a different sort of pitch in selected cities: offering up to $40,000 toward the purchase of a home or the creation of a business.
Taking a page from law firms and investment banks, the Army has already begun to offer hefty signing bonuses to recruits separate from the housing and business incentives. Those who sign on for four years of service can receive up to $40,000, with those willing to begin basic training within 30 days of signing their enlistment contracts receiving up to $20,000 more, depending on their specialty.
The aggressive marketing and large cash bonuses have helped the Army meet its recruiting goals, but barely. It missed its monthly targets earlier in the year, signing up 5,101 of the 5,500 recruits it wanted in May and 7,031 of the 8,400 recruits it sought for June. It exceeded its targets for the rest of the summer, however, recruiting 9,972 soldiers in July and 10,126 in August compared with goals of 9,750 and 9,600, respectively. The Army exceeded its overall goal of 80,000 for fiscal 2007 by recruiting 80,407 soldiers but only after allowing in a large number of recruits who had criminal records or who lacked high-school diplomas.
“We know most 18-year-old kids don’t think about mortgages yet,” Lt. Gen. Michael Rochelle, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel, said recently. “We’re going after the influencers.”

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. I wonder how that will play out with soldiers who are wounded in combat and discharged before the completion of their contract. (The Army is asking wounded soldiers to pay back portions of their sign-up bonuses.)
    Does someone who joins the Army to seed a home purchase or business, then loses a limb or two in Iraq as a result, will then find themselves back in the civilian world without the nest egg they risked everything for?
    That would make for some mean fine print.

  2. I always thought marketing for the military would be an interesting challenge. This article certainly illustrates that.

  3. gads don't post lyrics or poetry says:

    They needed a marketing team.
    What could go wrong:
    same song
    second verse same as the verse:
    Well we’re waiting here in Allentown
    For the Pennsylvania we never found
    For the promises our teachers gave
    If we worked hard
    If we behaved.
    So the graduations hang on the wall
    But they never really helped us at all
    No they never taught us what was real
    Iron and coke,
    Chromium steel.
    And we’re waiting here in Allentown.
    But they’ve taken all the coal from the ground
    And the union people crawled awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay
    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah aaaaaaaaaaah aaaaaah.
    Every child had a pretty good shot
    To get at least as far as their old man got.
    Something happened on the way to that place
    They threw an American flag in our faaaaaaaace, oh oh oh.
    Well I’m living here in Allentown
    And it’s hard to keep a good man down.
    But I won’t be getting up todaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy
    aaaaaaaaaaah aaaaaaaaaaah aaaaaaaaah.