Army Ad Draws More Responses, But Not More Recruits

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Response to the U.S. Army's recruitment campaign "Army of One" has increased since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, but recruitment rates have not shown a corresponding boost.


The attacks in New York and Washington that day have had minimal effect on recruitment efforts, said Douglas Smith, spokesman for U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Fort Knox, KY. Though inquiries have increased at the Army Web site, www.goarmy.com, the number of actual recruits has not risen, and the Army has no plans to change its advertising strategy.


The $150 million Army of One campaign, designed by agency Leo Burnett, Chicago, began at the start of this year and replaced the Army's previous "Be All That You Can Be" motto. Army of One targeted Generation Y, aiming to get young people interested in Army careers.


In addition to the Web site, the Army launched short-form direct response TV spots in April featuring a toll-free number prospects could call to receive an informational video or T-shirt. The spots generated 3,500 qualified leads in the first week of their run.


Response generated by the ad spots increased in the days immediately after the attack, Smith said. During Sept. 12-14, the average number of e-mails generated by goarmy.com rose 150 percent from the norm of 200-500 a day, while participants in daily online chats at the site increased to 743 a day, up from normal averages of 400 a day.


Numbers of responses to the telephone hotline were unavailable. Smith said the Army has anecdotal evidence that telephone responses rose as well in the three days after the terrorist strikes.


However, recruitment numbers have not deviated from the average since Sept. 11, Smith said. Though inquiries increased, many potential leads were turned away because they failed to meet the Army's physical and legal recruitment standards.


Prospective recruits included former soldiers who were deemed too old to re-enlist, Smith said. People may have thought that the Army's recruitment standards were relaxed since the Sept. 11 attacks, but no changes have been made.


"It will probably be months before we know what the long-range impact will be," he said. "So far, the impact has been minimal."


Though overall results of the Army of One campaign since the January rollout were unavailable, Smith said the Army was satisfied with the effort. The spots will continue to run on national television without changes.


"It's done what it was meant to do: Get young people intrigued enough to go to the Web site and look for more information," he said.


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