This got me looking at a lot of recruiting ads on Youtube, some for the US Army, some for the other branches, and some for foreign militaries. Since it's grey day in Upstate NY, I decided to take a look at at all of them--the good, the bad, and the unintentionally funny.
I'll start off with a classic from 1981. To this day, many people still remember this particular ad from nearly 30 years ago--I suspect it's largely due to the fact that it appears to be the first time the Army used the slogan "Be All [That] You Can Be", as well as the catch phrase "We do more before 9 AM than most people do all day". Until I saw this video, I had no idea where that phrase came from.
Notably dated military equipment in this video include a jeep, the paratrooper's steel helmet (introduced in WW2 and phased out in the mid-80s), and the sleeves on the uniform rolled inside-out.
When I was a cadet, I used to hear all sorts of urban legends surrounding this commercial. Most Soldiers from Fort Bragg used to swear that the lead character in this film was kicked out for drug use. Others claimed--more credibly--that the lead character was actually an actor. This wouldn't be entirely unprecedented; the Army has used actors in recruiting commercials in the past, including a very young John Travolta:
I guess it's a different world these days. Boasting about a private's salary in a recruiting ad would be downright laughable today, and our politically correct world would never showcase the smart-looking women in uniform and hula girls one is bound to meet while in the service.
Anyway, this blog wouldn't be called "Wings Over Iraq" if I didn't provide video of Army helicopters in action, so here we go. First is a commercial featuring an air traffic controller from the early 80s. I think this one is notable for the fact that it attempts to break many of the negative stereotypes and stigmas about women in the military that existed during that time, with the announcer saying "it doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman...all that matters is that you're good". Also note that the air traffic controller is wearing the old green fatigues, and the pilots have the old SPH-4 flight helmets.
"Apache...there's nothing hotter". I think the Army should have at least provided a video of an Apache barrel-rolling, but that's just me.
And, of course, after Desert Storm, anything in desert camouflage was cool. Check out the old school "chocolate chip" pattern, as well as the AH-1 Cobra helicopters in this 1992 commercial. The Cobra helicopter would be phased out of the Army five years later, after 25 years of service, and the "chocolate chip" pattern would be phased out in the mid-90s.
Added note: Is the Soldier in this commercial seriously sniffing the ground for tank scent?
Moving along, there was a discussion at BlackFive a while back regarding the worst recruiting ads of all time. Now, while there have been many great recruiting commercials for the US Marine Corps in the past, there have been a few baffling ones.
A few years ago, I engaged in some inter-service rivalry with a Marine friend of mine regarding recruiting commercials. I conceded that, while "An Army of One" was a bad recruiting slogan, it was at least better than the infamous "Marine vs. Lava Monster" commercial. I made the point that at least Army commercials were grounded in reality. Seriously, is a Marine in dress blues fighting a poorly-rendered CGI Balroq supposed to pull any emotional strings?
Moving across the pond, I have to say that the British have some interesting commercials about some of the stresses of modern warfare and counterinsurgency. They don't sugar-coat anything with these videos:
(Good counterinsurgency lesson)
Of particular interest is the British Army's new "Start thinking, Soldier" campaign, which puts you in the middle of some nail-biting situations. What I particularly admire is that these ads aren't portraying computer technicians or flight operations specialists, but rather, actual infantrymen in real situations. Take a look:
And again, while the US Army likes to showcase technical, non-combat jobs in its recruiting ads, the British Army fully celebrates its infantrymen in its recruiting films. This next video is part of a series of ads for all sorts of infantry jobs (airborne, air assault, mechanized, etc), but I think this one, for their air assault infantry, is the best. Of particular note is that the British military seems to encourage its troops to go out and have a good time on Friday nights.
I think I'm in the wrong military: first we have Britain's slutty Santa with an SA-80 slung over her shoulder, and now we have open a celebration of Friday night debauchery. We'd have a lot of groups--from liberal womens' rights advocates to conservative fundamentalists--protesting an ad campaign like that. But Great Britain gets my respect for not only taking a realistic outlook on sex and alcohol, but also not sugar coating the fact that Soldiers sometimes have to do a rough, tough job for their country. Hats off to them for a great commercial.
Next we go go Sweden. Take a look at the tank commander in this commercial:
Yup, female tank commanders. (Ahem, US Army, you might want to take note)
So that pretty much completes my Internet roundup of recruiting commercials from around the world. I'll leave you with one final commercial, courtesy of CollegeHumor.com. (Unfortunately, no embed. Sorry.)