Army Marketing Shift Snafu or Effective Exercise

Snafu stands for Situation Normal All Fouled Up and refers to an otherwise normal event that turns into a disaster. This paper analyzes the shift in late 2006 of the U.S. Army’s marketing slogan from An Army of One to Army Strong. Marketing slogans are used in advertising as a very good way to deliver an intense and strong message to the customer so that s/he decides to read the rest of the ad. Slogans also help in mind recall by instilling an image that sticks.The U.S. Army has had a long string of successful and effective slogans since it became an all-volunteer force in the early 1970s: Today’s Army wants to join you (1971-73), Join the people who’ve joined the Army (1973-79), This is the Army (1979-1981), Be all you can be (1981-2001), and An Army of One (2001-2006).The new slogan that would be tried out in the next two years with an optional extension for another three years actually has two related tag lines There’s strong, then there’s Army strong and It’s a strength like none other. The main reason cited by the Army for the marketing shift was its failure to meet its recruitment target in 2005, a trend that had already been somewhat predicted by declining recruitment figures since 2003.Essentially, while Army recruitment is similar to any normal company that wants to hire people to work for it, its critics cite one major difference: if you work for the Army, you would have to be ready to risk your life for your employer. It can be argued that the Army is not much different from companies that hire people for dangerous work in underground mines, offshore oil rigs, or outer space, so why are people not willing to work for it?Ironically, the word strategy comes from the Greek word strategos meaning art of the general and implies its initial application in warfare (Watson, 1993, p. 26). It is therefore easy to make the ‘wrong’ assumption that Army executives are proficient in strategic planning not only how to win battles and the war, but also how to get people to work for it.