Everything old is new again — and if you want to join the Army, you can once again “be all you can be.”
With recruiting numbers down in recent years and the service facing a reputation problem among potential recruits, the Army is going back to one of its earlier pitches, although officials claim it is absolutely not for nostalgia’s sake
“We’re not returning to ‘Be All You Can Be’ for nostalgia or old times’ sake or because we think retro is trendy and cool,” Maj. Gen. Alex Fink, chief of Army enterprise marketing, told Stars and Stripes. “We’re really reinventing it to reposition the Army and to inspire the next generation of soldiers.”
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The Army’s “Be All You Can Be” campaign debuted in 1981, and lasted for 20 years before the last ad ran in January 2001. It was named the 18th best ad campaign of the 20th century by Advertising Age, and it has remained an enduring part of many soldiers’ experience with the service. The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade even recently made its own nostalgic look back at what a recruiting pitch looked like 30 years ago.
The old “Be All You Can Be” ads featured scenes of soldiers “doing more before 9 am than most people do all day.” They featured soldiers jumping out of airplanes before then sharing a cup of coffee with their 1st Sgt. and Rangers repelling out of helicopters — or applying their advanced Army training to help parents understand how to use a computer.
When “Be All You Can Be ” was first retired, it was replaced with “Army Of One.” That one was soon replaced with “Army Strong” and then in 2018 with “Warriors Wanted,” which was soon tweaked to “What’s Your Warrior?”
Now, though, it’s time for a throwback.
Fink told Stars and Stripes that the Army tested about 200 different phrases with Americans from a variety of walks of life and“Be All You Can Be” was the clear winner. The most recent Army recruiting videos have emphasized doing, you know, Army training. Or the benefits you can acquire, like home loans.
“We already get credit for all that stuff through the media through movie franchises,” Fink told Stars and Stripes. “Let’s lean into things that they don’t know.”
The ‘reinvented’ slogan is supposed to officially roll out in March 2023.
“We’re trying to establish a brand refresh that’s going to last for a long time,” said Fink. “If we do this well, we think this could last for 15 to 20 years or more.”
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