Army Uses Stories To Boost Minority Officer Corps

Army-Officer-AFacing requirements to increase minority representation in its officer corps, the U.S. Army is launching a campaign targeted toward the African-American community, showcasing the leadership qualities and elite status becoming an Army officer yields. 

“The minority population in the Army’s officer corps is not representative of the total population even within the Army,” John Myers, director of marketing for the U.S. Army Marketing and Research Group, tells Marketing Daily. “We need [officers] to be representative of the total force that they lead.”

A new television commercial, produced by McCann World Group and Carol H. Williams advertising, features Major Myles B. Caggins, III. In the spot, Caggins tells of his reluctance to initially join the Army (“I was one of those guys who didn’t think the Army had anything for me,” he says at the beginning of the spot), before showcasing his success as a leader within the organization and a mentor outside of it. He also mentions that less than one-tenth of 1% of Americans become Army officers. “It’s a small group of us, but we’re among the most highly educated, compared to many other corporations or institutions,” he says.

“Through the use of testimonials, we’re putting the face of excellence in front of our prospects and their influencers. Major Caggins is not an actor,” Myers says. “He tells his individual story of choosing the career path and explains the tangible benefits through it.”

The commercial, which will run in conjunction with a Hispanic-themed ad released last October, will make its debut during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on NBC on Jan. 5. Both ads target not only potential recruits, but also their “influencers” (in this case parents), Myers says. 

“If parents are not convinced the Army is a good recommendation for their son or daughter, the challenge becomes even deeper,” Myers says. “We are using all the tools to get the key messages out.” 

The commercial is part of a larger, integrated effort to increase minority officer recruitment. The campaign will also include video ads on YouTube, Facebook and GoArmy sites, rich media ads and updates from Major Caggins and Captain Ricardo Romo (who appears in the Hispanic-targeted campaign) on the Army Strong Stories blogs. The campaign will also include localized multicultural print and radio ads. 

“We have a number of platforms to showcase our messages,” Myers says.

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