Army quietly withdraws false advertisement for “pharmacist” career


From ABC’s Blotter (also see ABC’s fall 2006 report on recruiter lies):

usarmypullst_mn.jpgThe U.S. Army has quietly pulled a television recruitment ad that falsely claimed it could train recruits to become pharmacists, a spokesperson for the Army has confirmed to ABC News.

The Army took action following a complaint made by David Work, former president of The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, after he spotted the ad during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Listing careers available in the Army, the 30-second spot included images of soldiers working in a pharmacy as a voice-over said, “They can be…pharmacists.”

A pharmacy degree requires the completion of a six-year program at a school of pharmacy, which the Army does not offer.

“They knowingly, intentionally put a lie out there, only to get a teenager to sign up,” said Work. “Any teenager will find a six-figure job attractive.”

At best, Army recruits could train to become pharmacy specialists.

What’s the difference? About $80,000 in annual salary, according to Work.

Work notified CBS, the network broadcasting the tournament, about the commercial’s inaccuracy on March 21. The Army then removed the advertisement from CBS on March 24 and from all television stations by March 29.

The Army did not publicly comment on the ad until contacted by ABC News.

“It was an honest mistake,” Col. David Lee, head of the Army’s Strategic Outreach Directorate, told ABC News. “In my office, I don’t have expertise on each one of the 150 specialties offered by the Army. If somebody identifies a problem, then we correct it.”

Work, however, is unconvinced.

“Whoever put that text together knew exactly what they were doing,” Work told ABC News. “These people are in the word business. They thought they could get away with this and get a bunch of new recruits, too.”

Imprecise wording can be a common occurrence in Army commercials, recruiters say.

“Sometimes they generalize to give you an idea about what you can do,” a New York City recruiter for the Army told ABC News. “It might not be exactly the way you think.”

Casanova Pendrill, the advertising agency used by the Army to produce the commercial, did not return repeated phone calls from ABC News seeking comment.

Since May 15, the Army has been airing a revised version of the ad that replaces “pharmacist” with “health care technician.”


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