Are the U.S. Marines the New Coke?
In the age of visual marketing, million dollar Super Bowl ads and the much anticipated new season of Mad Men, the advertising and re-branding of products, ideas and celebrities have reached a fever pitch in our society. But like Coca Cola‘s infamous marketing fiasco of 1985-some people likened the change in Coke to trampling the American flag-some brands just shouldn’t be changed.
THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE WHO?
The mission of the United States Military according to our Department of Defense has not changed since our country’s armed forces were established in 1775 at the time of the American Revolution:
“The mission of the Department of Defense is “to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country.”
In accordance, the mission as stated on the U.S. Navy’s website: “to maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.”
And the U.S. Army mission: “to fight and win our Nation’s wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the full range of military operations and spectrum of conflict in support of combatant commanders.”
In fact, the Departments headquarters was named “The War Department ” in 1789, until it eventually morphed into the DOD with direct control of the three military branches, Army, Navy, and Air Force in 1949.
I know, I know you get it. The American military’s mission is to fight wars and protect the freedoms of the United States. The age old image of a soldier; a tough, salty young buck always ready and eager to lay his life on the line for the values we as a country stand for, for the values our Forefathers documented in the Constitution. I repeat American values, not the values of the rest of the world. Which is why I, among many, am appalled at the new ad recruitment campaign released a few weeks ago by the Marine Corp, known as the toughest force we have in the military.
The ads dubbed “Toward the Sounds of Chaos” are described as seeing “how Marines react at a moment’s notice to resolve tyranny, oppression, and despair around the world.” Among other schlocky examples used, the ads primarily show Marines restoring order in impoverished areas and passing out humanitarian aid in the aftermath of the natural disasters, i.e. Earthquakes in Haiti and Japan. Humanitarian relief efforts are even listed before combat operations under Our Purpose on the Marine website which was retooled for the new ‘feel good’ campaign. Let me repeat: humanitarian relief efforts BEFORE combat operations.
WHY SO SOFT?
Somehow in the age of liberalism, Obamacare, and media bias, the JWT Communications firm shockingly discovered that only 42% of young adults felt favorably toward the Marine Corps. On the flip side their research also showed 70% of young adults felt strongly that being a good citizen meant “helping people in need, where ever they live.” Thus a new campaign was born aimed at attracting soldier recruits worried not about protecting American interests, but the interests of the new kumbaya world population. Sounds more like the Peace Corps with guns to me. Oh wait they addressed that issue too.
The firm’s CEO stated about the new ad push, “We’re not recasting the Marine Corps into some kind of peace-keeping force…. the campaign enables us to tell a longer story that being a Marine requires not only the right hand on the weapon, but also another hand to extend support.” Yes, that’s exactly the two fold mission the Marines have been pushing as clearly shown throughout history by their actions in battlegrounds like Iwo Jima in World War II, Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, Vietnam’s Khe Sanh and most recently in Fallujah during operation Iraqi Freedom. Now the new Marine ads promoting global good will is nothing new for the military…..back in 2009 the Navy released a similar series of recruitment ads promoting a “Global Force for Good.”
While the Navy’s slogan could be taken two ways: the U.S. Navy securing American and Western interests worldwide, in turn, is in the best interest of global stability, many critics believed the campaign covertly sends a message that the American military is changing into a military belonging to all nations. And with this new series of Marine ads, it seems the critics are quite adept at reading between the lines.
Thank goodness to our Veterans and history lessons, most young recruits joining the Marines, have no misconceptions of what they are getting into. They know the job of the Marine is first in to fight, kill or be killed. They welcome the challenge and honor to fight alongside the heroes who came before them in defending America’s freedoms. Does this mean our soldiers are not compassionate human beings? Well, they are Americans first aren’t they? They know right from wrong and the value of human life, which is why being part of a combat unit puts so much stress on a soldier to begin with. This is something we should be thanking our soldiers for, not try to wash away in shame.
I will say there are a few ad campaigns that got it right and truly shine light on what the soldier is all about and their dedication to United States. Unfortunately they got very little airplay on the national stage. The difference in the message is astonishing.
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MAD MEN & FALSE ADVERTISING
In the end, the U.S. is just creating a disillusioned soldier, one who more likely thinks he is joining ‘President Obama’s military’ for humanitarian reasons. The Military is trying to sell soft, and without anticipating how the psyche of these bright eyed sensitive soldiers will handle it on the battlefield. We can’t have it both ways.
Is it because we as a nation have grown so soft that we just can’t stomach the real mission of the military? The big brass must know this, but maybe they just don’t care. To them it could be just a numbers game. Get more fresh boots on the ground. After over 10 years of multiple deployments in countries that do not play by conventional warfare, the military of today is tired, weary and worn down. As a wife of a combat soldier I’d like to think that numbers do not play such a big role, that my husband’s life is not so expendable, but the amount of soldiers being sent back in country harboring traumatic brain injuries and other forms of post traumatic stress disorder is potentially in the thousands. If they recruit soldiers who are sold an ad campaign that pulls the wool over their eyes, is it not inevitable these soldiers will become the same recruits who’ll crack under the pressure because they will not be prepared for the death and destruction that inescapably comes along with their jobs?
So who is it the military wants? Or better yet who is it the American people want today’s soldier to be? The choice is becoming quite clear: An apologetic, always understanding and willing to negotiate ‘softy’ who really should be in the Peace Corps or a ‘lean mean killing machine’ determined to get the job done at all costs. I certainly know the type of soldier I want protecting me from the bad guys determined to take down our great democracy. How about you? -¬©LC