WASHINGTON (AP) — The Army is working to quickly put together some new recruiting ads to air during this weekend’s NCAA Final Four basketball games after being forced to remove commercials featuring actor Jonathan Majors following his arrest last Saturday .
Army leaders were thrilled to feature majors in the ads, a key element of their new campaign aimed at reviving the service’s struggling recruiting numbers – which had fallen far short of their hiring target last year. They believed the ads would capitalize on Major’s popularity, which stemmed from his recent films Creed III and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania – hoping they would help them reach teenage audiences .
However, last weekend they pulled the ads off the air when Majors was arrested in New York for strangulation, assault and molestation. New York police said the actor was involved in a domestic dispute with a 30-year-old woman. But an attorney for Majors, Priya Chaudhry, said there was evidence clearing Majors and that the actor was “proven to be the victim of an altercation with a woman he knows”.
Maj. Gen. Alex Fink, head of Army marketing, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Army avoided losing its planned $70 million advertising buy last week by either deferring ads or replacing them with other advance ads -existing commercials that have been updated quickly.
The ads should appear on TV, online on places like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and on digital and physical billboards, including on buses. This ad buy was the main part of the campaign, which had a total cost of $117 million.
“We can absolutely utilize a large part of our investments,” said Fink in an interview. “We think we’ll have some brand new creative ads in time for Friday’s Women’s Final Four.”
He said the Army collected “an enormous amount” of content and footage for the two commercials, titled “Overcoming Obstacles” and “Pushing Tomorrow,” which featured Majors as narrator.
“A lot of that content didn’t feature our main narrator. … So we have a lot of content that we can pull back to basically create new commercials and new ads if we need to,” Fink said. “The campaign is in full swing.”
The Army launched a new advertising campaign earlier this month with a major event at the National Press Club as part of a plan to revive the Army’s popular “Be All You Can Be” slogan, which dominated its recruiting ads for two decades beginning in 1981. The two new ads shed light on the history of the Army and some of the many professions that recruits can pursue. They ran from March 12 until they were airlifted by the army on March 25.
Last year was the Army’s worst recruiting year in recent history, falling 25% short of its target of hiring 60,000 recruits.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday brought up the recruitment problem, showering Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Army chief of staff General James McConville with questions about how the service intends to solve the recruitment problems.
“I see you had some bad luck with your ‘Be All You Can Be’ commercial,” said Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “Hopefully they cut a new commercial and get it online as soon as possible.”
Wormuth said the Army has a number of new programs, including bonuses, referral initiatives and a future soldier prep course that will give underperforming recruits the opportunity to take an academic or fitness course to try to meet enlistment standards.
“We’re trying to do everything we can think of because that’s really a fundamental thing that the army has to solve if we want to continue being the largest army in the world,” she said.
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