Why Does “An Army Of One” Need My Son?

Sun Times advertising columnist, Lewis Lazare, explores the rigorous work being done by Leo Burnett on behalf of the Army.

Gosh, it’s gotta be tough — crafting commercials that persuade parents to encourage their offspring to enlist in the Army, when almost every day we see and read of more carnage in Iraq.
And Iraq, of course, is just one of the battlefields where American soldiers find themselves stationed in what promises to be a long and potentially quite bloody war against terrorism and assorted other threats to the homeland.
But boy, is Leo Burnett, the U.S. Army’s agency of record — at least for the next couple of months — trying hard to make a compelling case for parents signing off on their kids’ signing up for military service.
A new series of what are being termed “influencer” spots make that case in often startlingly emotional terms.
We admit to being surprised at finding a bit of a lump in the throat as we watched a couple of these new commercials. They are populated with some fine actors who know how to plumb the emotional depths of a line of copy.

I’m not sure what’s so tough about it. If the parents in question are supporters of the President, then they most likely agree that a modern day Crusades is a good idea. Granted, if the parents oppose the sitting administration, no commercial is going to sway them.
Call me crazy, but I don’t see much opposition to this war, nor any of Bush’s policies for that matter. I guess we’re too busy working and pursuing the material objects that our commercial culture (of which advertising is the mouthpiece) claims will make us happy.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.