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Media Advertising – The Army Advertising Campaign

Targets You! Exploratory Essays Research PapersThe U.S. Army Advertising Campaign Targets You!

The United States Army recruitment campaign slogan of “An Army of One,” is reminiscent of the legendary Musketeer’s code. These men protected the king and lived by the phrase “One for All and All for One.” To the Musketeers this represented the power they found in unity as well as in individuality, combined. This relationship, though somewhat subtle, is simply a play on the recent felt need of many to serve and protect their country and freedom.

The U.S. Army uses television, print, and now the World Wide Web with an interactive internet website, at, for recruiting males and females from right out of high school, to the age of 35, although this particularly is trying to reach the large, new internet using group of young people today. The new “Go Army” ad campaign from the United States Army, successfully overcomes its slight lack of logical reasoning, by appealing to its audiences interests by using the implicit high reputation that the U.S. Army entails and by employing the surge of patriotic and sense of duty; as well as visually captivating graphics that draw on desires to be adventurous and exotic.

The site has visually stimulating graphics of men and women in their various uniforms all set in backgrounds of diverse locations. From the starting page there is a man dressed in winter gear in the foreground, with snow-capped alpine mountain peaks behind him. While the page is loading a flash quote reads, “I’ve trained in desert, urban, jungle, and alpine…” Next to this picturesque scene is the army logo, with the phrase written down the side “An Army of One.” This is characteristic of the sites use of attractive visuals to appeal to its audience. There are various pop-up options available at the bottom of the screen, including; enlistment bonus, learn about the online game, partnership for youth success, and hot shots. Another sidebar also includes ice soldier-pushing the limits, arena football, and career professionals. Each element is meant to appeal to a different aspect of their intended audience.

The U.S. army deliberately de-emphasized the logical reasoning of their purpose, to ask their audience to join the army. This was an intelligent decision in and of itself because there really aren’t many good logical reasons to join the army. They don’t make any statements on the website like “join the army and become strong and healthy”, because obviously there are much safer ways to become strong and healthy. Or, “join the army because it’s the best way to make money,” because like before, there are safer ways to make money. They specifically don’t make mention of any logos because for one, there just aren’t any really good reasons, and two, because it isn’t necessary due to the number and strength of the messages ethos and pathos.

The U.S. army uses the fact that it is so well known and highly regarded worldwide, to support its appeal. The U.S Army has been protecting the country since its creation and everyone knows that. From the very opening page of the website there is the Army emblem right there on the side. This denotes credibility. The opening page also shows someone in full dress uniform. When you see someone in an Army uniform, this alone draws your respect for the person. The website also emphasizes other points through its pop-up options, such as the one that talks about the Army Marksmen team that is to compete in a worldwide competition, the heading reads, “Army’s top marksmen among world’s best.” This strong emphasis on ethos is a wise decision because it is very well manifest. In another pop-up option they use an association with a high-class society to support their credibility. This is seen in the option that reads, “Partnership for youth success. Jumpstart your career.” This section of the ad appeals strongly to its audience by associating itself with the Fortune 500 companies. This new take shows that the Army isn’t just a bunch of grunts out killing people, but they are really preparing themselves to take on high positions of responsibility in the world. This works well, because by making this association, they raise their own credibility in this line of reasoning.

The web site had a recent change made to it on September 11, 2001. The opening page beforehand showed a man in winter dress in a mountain scene, the new graphic shows a man in full dress folding an American flag with the super-imposed words, “Honoring our heroes at home and overseas.” This strengthens the ads sincerity and credibility by using such diction as honor and hero. These words alone would have been sufficient to make that point. Because of the solid foundation the U.S. army has created for itself by displaying their sincerity visually, as well as implying their credibility through the use of the pop-up screens, the site succeeds in supporting their message.

However, even with a strong ethos, people still want reasons that apply to them personally, before making such a drastic change in their lives. The Army accomplishes their goal of by using the current felt patriotism in America to appeal to their audience as well. Since September 11, 2001, Americans have bought out American flags at Wal-Mart, and made all sorts of efforts to support the nation that they love. As seen in earlier paragraph, the Army uses these emotions, to build on their already sturdy ethos foundation.

The U.S. flag has become such a strong symbol within the past year, and the U.S. Army uses that fitfully in drawing on the patriotism of its audience, by displaying it on its opening page. They also use their main catch phrase “An Army of One”, to appeal to one’s desire to be a part of a group. This phrase means that even though there are many, they are unified in purpose and in action. This desire for unity coupled with patriotism is a strong argument to make one want to join.

They also attempt to appeal to the desire for wealth through another pop-up visual, of a man smiling beside a lamp post in a city scene. This is the graphic displayed when the option “Enlistment Bonus. Receive a Cash Bonus'” is chosen. This would most likely apply to those in the intended audience that are of lower socio-economic status that are looking for ways to make more money. This visual of a man smiling implies that money brings happiness, because if this man is smiling because of his bonus, then you will smile when you get yours. The only weakness in this argument is in the ambiguity of the way in which the bonus is received. The statement is “You can receive a cash bonus up to $20,000 if you enlist in the U.S. Army. This cash bonus is only available with certain Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs).” The words “can” and “up to” here are very tricky; however the ad is straightforward about it in stating that it’s only available to certain MOSs. This would be much better done, if the MOSs that receive the bonus were listed here, to reduce the ambiguity, and therefore regain more trust.

The ad also appeals to the desire to travel and go to exotic places, as well as to be daring and brave. Before the Sept. 11, change the opening flash quote’s word choice was “desert,” “urban,” “jungle,” and “alpine” all represent very different types of places and they also employ strong graphics of these places in the visual components of the site. This one for example, shows the soldier in front of a bunch of snow-capped mountains, and coniferous forest. This would also most likely appeal to those of lower socio-economic status, who could not afford to see such places any other way. There is also a video title “Ice Soldiers” that can be downloaded and watched that is meant to show the excitement of army life. Its asks you to “enter the world of the ice soldiers,” once again to make that strong appeal to the desire to be in exotic and exciting situations. This is successful because they show such diverse locations very vividly in their graphics and use such highly descriptive terms as “vertical ice” and “roaring winds” that appeals to the flood of extreme sports lovers.

The ad does not leave out the casual observer of sports however. The option of Arena Football attracts the attention of sports lovers. The visuals in this part of the ad are especially appealing to fans of sports because they are so full of action. The picture shows an actual play in motion of someone running from the opposing team with the ball, and it is all in close-up. The diction here is also very well chosen because they use phrases like “force to be reckoned with.” The message in this part of the ad is that “there is probably no sport more closely associated with the Army than football.” This is another good choice of association. Football has become a very popular sport in the U.S., even surpassing at times the viewers of baseball. As a member of this intended audience, being born in Texas, and therefore having football in my blood, I feel this is strongly appeals to me. Not only as seeing them in a game of this different version of the sport, but also in the things they offer at the games. They offer things like prizes, interactive games, and free jerseys. This is a very successful mode of appealing to sports enthusiasts.

The U.S. army also makes an attempt to appeal to a larger audience by offering an online video game. This would attract the attention of many youth who are now into this recent fad. The pop-up screen strengthens this appeal by using such terms as “innovative” and “highly realistic.” This “Official Army Game,” therefore reaches its intended audience of the “computer savvy” generation that has begun to emerge. The purpose is to get these young people to play this game, so that their interest in signing up and doing the real thing might grow. In my case however, because I only play these games because I’m too lazy to do the real thing, this method might not be so effective. But the army even has that base covered by stating that just by playing their new game you can “Gain experience as a Soldier in the U.S. Army, without ever leaving your desk.” The scene it portrays appears to be a desert campaign, so there may also be an implied pull here at recent events in the Middle East. Therefore there may be more than just a fun appeal here, but also a type of appeal to political beliefs and interests.

Overall, the U.S. Army most successfully uses the emotion of patriotism as well as the Army’s reputation to successfully appeal to its intended audience. They made their message even more appealing, by presenting the message over a wide medium, which is the World Wide Web. By expanding their audience to sports lovers, marksmen, and the online game players of today, they will gain that much more coverage and attract that many more recruits.

These reasons would be enough for me to join if I didn’t have any other reasons not to do so. Personally, I feel I owe my country so much for the freedoms it provides me, and the army for protecting those freedoms. I feel a strong sense of duty to serve my country, and I almost enlisted the day the towers fell, but an even deeper emotion runs through me, and that is toward my mother. Because she is truly the one who provides me with all that I have, and if she had let me go that day, I would have. Needless to say, she did not, and so I am here. My mother says I can serve my country better this way.


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