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What’s Your Warrior?: A Visual Analysis of the Army’s Newest Marketing Campaign

What’s Your Warrior?
A Visual Analysis of the Army’s Newest Marketing Campaign

By: @Chris Farley


Over forty years ago, the United States Army launched its first edition of an ever-changing advertisement campaign. It started out as “Be All You Can Be”. It was the first ad tailored for an all-volunteer force. The older soldiers from the Vietnam era criticized it for portraying the Army as something it could sell. In a way, they were right. After two centuries of having a fighting force that was compiled by drafted individuals, America finally was asking for the common man and woman to step up and do something that was formerly told of them. How though, could enlisting into the US Army be sold? Easy; by offering the young individual their choice of job description. That is the technique that the United States Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) prides itself on, allowing the individual to pick their job. New campaigns came and went. The Commanding General of USAREC, Major General Frank Muth said that their last campaign, “Warriors Wanted did not resonate with young people in the 22 major cities the service identified as areas to focus on for its new recruiting strategy”. USAREC revealed its numbers for the fiscal year of 2018 and showed that it “fell short by over 6,500 new soldiers” (Cox). So, on Veterans Day of 2019, the Army aired the first chapter of its newest marketing campaign, titled “What’s Your Warrior”. When analyzing the image, one could argue that the Army’s use of ethos, pathos, and logos created its best version of an advertisement they have ever developed in order to reach the young adult audience.

As the advertisement appears on the screen, the opening scene is set in a sepia tone featuring five soldiers separating from one entity; an Apache pilot, a scientist, a sniper, a communications specialist, and an air and space specialist. It is using ethos as it is the Army’s ad and they are the credible source. When the view pans out, it transitions into an Apache helicopter flying through a mountain range; one could assume it may represent Afghanistan. The words on the screen read “cross mountain ranges”. From there, the animation takes on a smoky effect to change into a cell that is splitting, with the scientist handling a beaker. Here, the words read “split cells”. Once again, the audience witnesses the same animation transitioning into the sniper. The ad says to “master the elements”. The sniper fades into the communications specialist with the words on the screen reading “speak new languages”. Finally, the ad moves once again, into the air and space specialist who is working with satellites. This is the culmination of the ad, showing that all the jobs work together as one fighting force that is capable of affecting the entire world. This is the claim that the advertisement is making. They are trying to appeal to the masses by showing that you can be anyone and do anything you want when you join the US Army.
One could also see the use of pathos within the ad. The entire clip is entrenched in a hip-hop remix of Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” performed by rapper, Realnamejames. This is most definitely appealing to the younger audience. One might wonder what the significance of this particular song is and how it pertains to an Army recruiting commercial. Some have said the original lyrics to the song, written by Robert Lamm, are about searching for and undergoing a spiritual, soul-searching journey. Here, the ad could be focused towards the young person that is just fed up with the same old routine of life and is ready to explore different options. If one listened to the remix’s version, there is a verse that plays “losing is not an option, I can come to comprehend this, that honor and respect every lesson, I will defend”. This could be a reference to the Army Drill Sergeant’s motto “This, we’ll defend”.

The variety of different job skills that a recruit could obtain is what the Army is trying to sell. It is using logos by saying that, although they have the Infantry and the standard combat-oriented jobs, they have so much more to offer “Generation Z” as well. That is the major difference between the Army and the other branches of service when it comes to recruiting. Not only does the Army have more jobs to offer, but it also allows the recruit to select his or her specific job with the recruiter. Another method of reaching the younger generation is placing these ads to be viewed on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter (Cox). Of course, they will run on television too, but knowing that many of today’s youth operate on social media, that is where they will put most of their focus. Diversity is also now a big priority for USAREC. They plan on bringing the intensity to many different liberal cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

Overall, the general purpose of the “What’s Your Warrior” campaign is to appeal to today’s generation of youth in order to boost the Army’s numbers. It has most definitely been effective. In 2018, the Army’s goal was 76,500 and they attained 69,972 for an overall percentage of 91.47%. Comparatively, in 2019, the Army’s goal was 68,000 and they attained 68,185 for an overall percentage of over 100%, increasing it by almost a whole 10%. In 2018, African Americans made up 20.8% of the Army’s total recruiting numbers. With diversity being such a high priority, in 2019, they bumped it up to 22.3%. Female recruits were the highest since 2004 for active duty and the highest since the early 1990s for the reserve side (recruiting.army.mil). The Army’s previous campaigns were successful, but they needed to step their game up when it comes to modernizing their advertisements. They finally did this with the “What’s Your Warrior” campaign and the results are evident. The ad has a whole new hip look and feel to it with the colors, animation, and music, but the way the Army portrays the different job options by using its credibility is ultimately the reason for their overall mission success.

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Feb 20, 2021
This campaign is bad A. No wonder the success it has had attracting future soldiers.

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