Back in 2002, as we were preparing to go to war in Iraq, I showed my book at an agency who had a branch of the military as one of its accounts. I asked the CD point blank, “So how is impending war affecting the account? I mean, it’ll get harder to meet recruitment goals with this current ad campaign.” He replied “It’s not really changing anything, but it is getting harder to get on the bases–security is a lot tighter.”
I knew right then he was full of shit, or living in a dreamworld, either one.
Today’s New York Times has a fascinating look at the military’s marketing efforts:
The war in Iraq represents the latest watershed in the shaping of public perception of the military and military service. But as the government and ad agencies gear up their marketing machinery to stave off the recruitment shortfall and avoid possibly having to resurrect the draft, they are encountering a promotional hurdle: the perception that serving in the armed forces means more than merely coming in harm’s way. Service, in the eyes of many potential recruits and their families, may mean death.
Check out the article. Because I can’t think of a tougher marketing challenge. For any client. Ever.