Getting a Handle on Military Advertising


This article originally appeared in Issue# 56

Recruiting ads are all around us. Instead of tuning them out or turning the page, put them on the agenda of your study or discussion group. Plan one -- or both -- of these activities for a future class or group meeting: Pick up a selection of youth, sports and minority publications (Boy's Life, Scholastic Scope, Sports Illustrated, Ebony and Hola!, among others) at your local newsstand or library. Copy or clip the recruiting ads. Display them in your group and discuss: What is the appeal in each ad? Is it realistic? To what age, sex, race, socio-economic level is the ad directed? What is the picture of military life that comes through the armed services ad campaign?

Monitor an afternoon of sports programs and note down the variety, duration and frequency of commercials for the military. (If possible, collect them on videotape for replaying with your group.) What ages and/or ethnic groups do they target? Do the commercials try to enhance the military's image as well as promote recruitment? Do they make the military service look exciting and glamorous? What visual or sound techniques enhance the commercial's message?