Your Turn… to Die?


The Defense Department has a new ad campaign, extensively described in a massive New York Times article today.  It encourages children and parents to talk about enlisting, in a new strategy targetted at "influencers," possibly in response to the recent decline of parental support for joining the armed forces. 

The camera tracks a mother’s field of vision as she hovers over a
checkbook and a calculator lying on her kitchen table. She looks up as
her daughter, a young African-American woman, sits down to speak with

"Look Mom, if I decide I still want to be a doctor when I get out, I’ll
have had four years experience as a nurse or an X-ray tech or an O.T.
specialist working with real patients," the daughter says, speaking
directly into the camera and into her mother’s eyes. "That’s why I want
to enlist in the military; it’ll be good for my career. What do you
think? Mom?"

The campaign is scheduled to launch on October 17th, and seeks to fight the dwindling numbers of new recruits, as the war in Iraq and around the world drags on.   It’s designed by a Massachusetts ad agency, Mullen, whose other clients include  Eastman Chemical and General Motors.   "This is advertising that is designed not to look or feel like
advertising at all," Edward Boches, chief creative officer at
Mullen told the Times.

The Times article also notes that the Army’s ad spending "has almost doubled since 2000, to
about $290 million this year, according to Army data," and that the Army "expects to spend
at least $1 billion on marketing under a five-year contract that it
plans to award sometime this winter."

But Carrie McClaren of Stay Free Magazine wonders whether this campaign is going to shore up the recruiting numbers.  She writes:

"… I can’t for the life of me figure out how this upcoming campaign made it out of focus group. The first thing that came to mind when I
saw this image from one commercial was "It’s your turn . . . to die."  I mean, they might as well put target lines around this woman’s face!  Considering that the number one reason young people don’t sign up
for the military is to avoid getting killed, I give this campaign a
week before it’s shot down."

Even the Times agrees that the DOD has a hard job ahead.  In the coming months, the article ends, "the Army’s marketing and recruitment machine will be challenged to
prove wrong the old joke that even the best ads cannot sell a troubled

"I think people in the armed services are racking
their brains to come up with new recruiting messages," Professor Segal
[a sociologist at the University of Maryland] said. "But I don’t know that they’ve come up with anything that’s


2 Responses to “Your Turn… to Die?”

  1. Arne P. Ryason Says:

    Here’s my script for a counter recruitment ad. Feel free to re-post this or produce it. No copyright. I’m sure others have thought of this:

    Anti Military Recruitment Ad – “Your turn to die.”
    by Arne P. Ryason

    Parent and high school age child are sitting at the kitchen table. It is Saturday – kids playing outside, etc. They are finishing lunch.
    Hey, dad … (or “hey, mom …”)


    You know, I’ve been thinking about how to pay for college and stuff…I think I want to join the [military branch]. (shows brochure) It says here they’ll pay for tuition and I’ll get trained in all the latest high tech stuff. That and I think it’s my turn to serve my country. (wording should be similar to current military advertising, but not so close as to violate copyright)

    Just a minute …

    Parent gets up from the table … jump cut to parent returning with a small stack of paper …. ink jet prints of digital photographs.

    Here are some photos I got from the internet.
    They’re from Iraq. (hands Child first photo)

    Oh! (reacts with shock and horror. We don’t see picture, just Child’s reaction)

    This kid probably read the same brochure. It’s hard to operate a computer when your face has been blown off. Looks like they disconnected his tracheotomy tube – I think he’s dead. (hands child second picture)

    (reacts even more than the first – possible tear in his/her eye. Again, we only see Child’s reaction, not picture)

    What did this child do to end up like that? Can you imagine that happening to your little sister? The military fights wars. People that join the military get maimed and killed. That stuff about training and college is just to suck you in. Once you’ve signed the papers they tell you what to do. That sometimes means killing and maiming other people. Then it might be your turn to die.

    (fairly shaken … shocked) Sorry I asked.

    (puts a reassuring hand on Child’s hand) It’s OK. I won’t show you any more.
    But save those … in case [sister’s name] asks you the same thing some day.

    Cut to end graphic. Something like: “Your turn to die. The [military branch]’s job is to kill people. Don’t sign up. for more information log on to http://www.[website].com”

  2. Jackson Says:

    Very good post. Hope to see even more good posts in the near future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: