The U.S. Army spends roughly $200 million a year in advertising: The lucrative account is held by Interpublic Group of Companies' McCann Worldgroup, which has been the lead ad agency on the account since 2005. McCann introduced the successful "Army Strong" campaign in 2006, replacing the well-trod and indelible campaign, "Be All You Can Be.">
As a U.S. Army Veteran, and based on 20+ years in marketing, communications and advertising, I'd like to offer some free advice for the personnel in the Army's Marketing and Research Group.
I propose a new campaign that represents the ideals upon which the United States Army was founded, that explains to the American public--specifically to the target audience the Army is trying to recruit--the long-term benefits and impacts of serving our country.
Almost every veteran you meet (Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard) has at least one story of how they've applied in their civilian life the professional, personal, leadership and ethical skills they developed in service to our country. These lessons extend from the classroom to the boardroom and beyond.
In fact, according to a Korn/Ferry International report, "Military Experience and CEOs: Is There a Link?":
1. Military officers are well-represented among the ranks of CEOs. Chief executives who served as officers constitute over 8 percent of all CEOs in the S&P 500, which is far above the average percentage of the entire U.S. male population who served in the military (3%).
2. CEOs with military experience have longer tenures as CEO than those without. The average tenure of a CEO with military experience is over seven years, while a CEO without military experience averaged under five.
3. CEOs with a military background are more likely to deliver strong performance. The Korn/Ferry study found that companies led by military veterans as CEOs delivered higher average returns than the S&P 500 index over one, three, five, and ten-year horizons.
The report emphasizes: "Without exception, the CEOs interviewed emphasize that the military offers an early opportunity to acquire hands-on leadership experience that cannot be found in the corporate world or at a similarly early stage in people’s careers."
The unique leadership training young Americans receive in the military is manifested not just in the Boardroom, but also every day. It's no exaggeration to suggest that the strongest case to serve in the U.S. Army for any period of time is found in today's headlines. Here's a sample of The Army Values in action:
And my favorite:
The Army's new ad flight, 'Defy Expectations,' "seeks to motivate prospects to take a deeper look into the Army," said James Ortiz, director of marketing, Army Marketing and Research Group. "By challenging current preconceived notions, we want prospects to pause, seek out our online platforms or an Army recruiter, and really consider the Army for what it is--a unique life-changing career and education opportunity and an incredible foundation for success today and tomorrow."
From personal experience--through developing emerging leaders in the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program at MIT, and from my decisive actions at the 2013 Boston Marathon--I know that the skills to which I was exposed, and which I developed, in the U.S. Army, helped to form the citizen I have become.
Ask other veterans and they'll say something similar. Even if they didn't remain in their respective military branch, the character, strength, fortitude, and commitment to contributing to our nation during their service remained--remains--within them.
The Army Marketing and Research Group is spending millions when the elegant solution may well be to convey a simple message: "You Might Not Stay in the Army, but the Army Stays in You."