From The Cheap Seats: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Over the last month, new Army recruiting commercials have been hitting the airways, and by all accounts, they have been well received except for the first ad.
This January, the Army created new incentives for recruiting soldiers, including a new Federal recruiting ribbon. A number of Army National Guard states have had recruiting ribbons for years and were generally awarded when a referral shipped off to basic training or had completed basic training. In addition, the Active Army allowed Private to Private First Class soldiers to get an immediate promotion to the next grade if they successfully signed a contract with the Army.
These are good ideas to help incentivize recruiting and should be applauded for some innovation in the ranks. The leadership should also get some applause, as the recruiting numbers are well behind schedule again, so new ways of business need to occur, and with haste.
In this case, a good step forward for the Army and its soldiers.
However, the new spokesman for the Be All You Can Be campaign, actor Jonathan Majors, was arrested last night for assaulting and choking a young woman in New York City. Majors, one of Marvel's new stars and a seemingly good choice to be the face of these new ads was arrested whilst the woman was taken to a local hospital.
As soon as I read about the arrest last night, I figured these ads had about a 24-hour shelf life before they were pulled. As reported by Task and Purpose earlier today, Army Marketing and Recruiting leadership did just that. While not all of the ads will be pulled, it’s still a major blow to the Army which continues to struggle to recruit new soldiers into the force.
Army Marketing Command has about a $150 million dollar annual budget, and paying a famous young movie star for his roles in these commercials was undoubtedly expensive. Pulling these two ads he starred in — and any other ads that he was in that have not been released yet — is also wasted money now, even if Majors is found innocent in a court of law.
It's just another incident of poor publicity that the Army cannot afford to have right now. The last major domestic abuse study within DoD, conducted from 2015–2019, reported over 40,000 incidents in that time period, but those are likely under-reported due to a number of reasons captured within the GAO study. Having your spokesman for a new recruiting ad, one with a near-legendary status due to its successes 35 years ago, arrested for domestic violence and strangulation is just about the last thing Army Recruiting Command needs to hear right now.
How will it affect recruiting over time? Probably very little, because as much as these tv ads appeal to old-timers like myself, the reality is people join the Army for more material reasons such as a steady paycheck, adventure, college benefits and the ability to travel on someone else’s credit card. I think there might be a short-term blip for the already bad recruiting numbers, but in three to four months, Majors will have been forgotten about and the Army will have moved on in some other form or fashion as it usually does.