Army's new recruiting ads focus less on combat roles

The Army's new recruiting ads focus less on combat roles.

The Army's glitzy new recruiting campaign that kicked off on Veterans Day focuses less attention on combat roles and highlights lesser-known jobs like cyber warriors and scientists.

The ads are intended to "surprise" the 17-to-24-year-olds of "Generation Z" and raise awareness of less-popularized roles in the Army at a time when a strong economy is making it difficult to find new recruits.

The "What's Your Warrior" campaign will still highlight combat roles, but it also plays up some of the service's 150 career fields. It's a main reason why the new pitch showcases cyber protection and scientists researching the Zika virus.

"The goal is to show the breadth and depth of roles that you can play in the United States Army and how these individual roles come together to form the most powerful team on earth," said Brig. Gen. Alex Fink, head of the Army's enterprise marketing. "You can be a warrior and work in cyberspace or in signals, or as a logistician."

The ads are a big change from previous recruiting efforts "in terms of the use of colors, the use of music, the way we transition, the types of roles that we're going to show and how we show those types of roles will be different," Fink added. "We want to try to do it in a way that surprises our Generation Z audience."

The Army's stated recruiting goal for fiscal year 2020 is 69,000 new soldiers, but a stronger economy and a shrinking pool of candidates who meet educational, health and fitness requirements has hindered that effort.

In addition to putting the new ads on TV, Find said they'll have a strong "digital marketing presence" so members of Gen-Z encounter them on social media.

"That's part of how you reach them," said Fink. "We've got to meet them where they are."

One of the five soldiers highlighted in the ad campaign is Captain Erika Alvarado, 34, an Army Reservist who leads a Cyber Protection Team.

Focusing on non-combat roles will get the attention of younger potential recruits, Alvarado said.

"It will definitely open their horizons and perspectives to know that it's not just war and shooting and blowing things up," Alvarado added. "We have professional careers, whether it be myself, like in cyber or the medical, or engineers."

Alvarado initially joined the Reserves as an enlisted soldier when she was 17, needing a waiver from her mother so she could join before her 18th birthday.

She later became an officer and about a year ago transitioned from being a career logistician to the cyber realm.

"I would say no matter what passion an individual has, in any type of specialty, the Army has a position for them," she said. "And every one of them is just as important as everyone else."

The ad campaign is included in the Army's proposed $335 million marketing budget for 2020, though the actual amounts to be spent this year will depend on pending congressional action.

Fink characterized the ad campaign as "the most complex and most integrated marketing campaign in the history, of the United States Army."