In the early 2000s, the Army aimed to raise its recruitment numbers through diversity. Army marketers tried developing an inclusive advertising message that could be relevant to all target demographics using research based on gender and ethnicity. Eventually, they received help from advertising agencies that helped develop Spanish-language ad campaigns. To understand the role marketing plays in Army recruitment, you have to go back to its history. Since the draft ended in 1973, the Army has switched up its marketing tactics and target demographic, especially looking at the growing U.S. Latino population. Marketing tactics made Latinos feel like they are part of the nation, giving them a “cultural citizenship.” And it worked. From 2001-2005, the Army’s Latino enlistment rose 26%.
Here are three examples of ads tailored to Latinos:
Images courtesy of Irene Garza/ NW Ayers Collection
2 thoughts on “Tío Sam Wants You”
Some important clarifications are needed regarding military enlistment and citizenship. The military does NOT offer “expedited citizenship.” It only permits enlistees to submit an expedited application for citizenship. Their applications must be judged and approved by USCIS, not the military, which is why some enlistees are shocked to find out that they were turned down and still must fulfill years of obligation to the military–including being sent abroad to fight in U.S. wars. Also, often undocumented youths think that joining the military is an option that will gain them citizenship; however, with only very few exceptions, the military does not accept immigrants unless they at least have permanent legal residency. In contrast, it’s worth noting that colleges do accept undocumented students, and a number of states allow them to apply for state financial aid.