James Dao -
Ad Campaign for Marines Cites Chaos as a Job Perk
The war in Iraq is over, the troop reduction in Afghanistan is under way and America’s next war front is far from clear. If you are a military recruiter, how do market your product?
The Marine Corps thinks it has the answer: focus on something the world has in endless supply — chaos.
On Saturday, the Marine Corps will open its latest marketing campaign, “Toward the Sound of Chaos,” which will use social media, television commercials and print ads to underscore two points: That while no one knows where the next global hot spot will be, the Marines are ready to charge there.
“Even though we’re ramping down from the 10 years of Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re going to have a chaotic future in front of us, which also portends a potentially busy time for the Marine Corps,” said Brig. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, commanding general for Marine Corps recruiting command.
The new campaign will also include much information, and dramatic footage of Marines delivering humanitarian aid to nations beleaguered by war, famine or natural disaster, like Haiti, where 2,200 Marines provided medical supplies, food and security after the 2010 earthquake.
The new emphasis is partly the result of a national online survey conducted by JWT, the marketing firm, showing that many young adults consider “helping people in need, wherever they may live,” an important component of good citizenship.
“There is a subset of millennials who believe that the military is an avenue of service to others,” General Osterman said. “Not only in our nation, but also in others faced with tyranny and injustice.”
But, General Osterman said, the Marine Corps remained an expeditionary, combat-oriented force. Post-Afghanistan, it will probably return to its traditional role of attacking mainly from the sea, he added. “Are we getting soft?” he asked. “The answer is no.”
The campaign’s inaugural television commercial opens with scenes of a smoke-draped horizon and the sounds of gunfire and people screaming in the distance. The terrain is vaguely desertlike, but there are no geographic landmarks — not even a hill — to pin down the location. It could be Africa, Central Asia or Kansas.
Marines then sprint into the picture and toward the smoke, F/A-18 fighter jets screaming overhead. Before the minute-long ad is over, virtually every form of Marine war-fighting hardware — the much-critiqued V-22 Osprey, Cobra attack helicopters, amphibious assault vehicles and a hovercraft — make guest appearances.
“Most people hear the sounds of chaos and run in the opposite direction,” the baritone-voiced narrator says. “But there are a few who listen intently for these sounds, not in the hopes of hearing them, but to help rid the world of them.”
The spot ends with a provocative tagline: “Which way would you run?”
The Marine Corps has always been adept at maximizing buzz around its marketing campaigns, and this one — estimated to cost more than $3 million — was no different. The television spot leaked onto YouTube on Wednesday and then on Thursday the Marines released Web-only videos on Facebook. The first television commercial will air on ESPN during the Big 12 basketball championship game on Saturday night.
The new Marine Corps campaign echoes in some ways the Navy’s current campaign, titled “A Global Force for Good.” The Air Force’s latest campaign, “It’s Not Science Fiction. It’s What We Do Every Day,” also includes humanitarian themes woven into commercials depicting a vaguely dystopian future.
The Army, which often competes with the Marine Corps for recruits, is evaluating recent survey data to decide whether to revamp its current marketing campaign, “Symbol of Strength,” a reference to the Army uniform as a symbol of personal and military strength.