US Army community recruit campaign for AA audience

U.S. Army

Redefining perceptions of life in the U.S. Army and increasing recruitment among African Americans by leveraging unique cultural insights.

The U.S. Army tasked CHWA with helping it overcome low AA (African American) recruitment and officership numbers.

Key Challenges

The U.S. Army was facing a perception crisis that young AA recruits would be shipped off to the front lines of two already unpopular wars. Also, historical mistreatment and bias toward recruits of color deepened suspicions of the U.S. Army.

Research showed that the AA audience often feels treated as outsiders and thus assumes that “us” and “we” do not include them, unless explicitly stated.

Research showed that the AA audience is less nation focused and more community and family focused. In other words, slogans like “Do it for your nation!” did not resonate highly with them.

Creative Objective

Redefine perceptions of life in the U.S. Army to increase AA recruitment and officership.

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Solution

“The Army is the most versatile team with the diversity (competencies, capabilities, and people) to ensure it will have the greatest impact to protect and preserve the nation.”

CHWA developed a marketing strategy to be faithful to this core brand promise while leveraging the unique cultural insights of the African American target audience.

  • Broad Reach: Create media messages impacting our target audience on two levels—public and personal—as real and fully effective. Social media interaction and peer-to-peer dialogue will foster a greater sense of trust with this digitally savvy segment.
  • COIs: Personal relationships have the strongest influence on AACM prospect decisions, so it’s necessary to complement existing COI engagements with more grassroots and community-oriented organizations.
  • Experiential: Army presence at events that allow for more one-to-one engagement between the Army and AACM prospects/influencers should produce more quality leads and solid conversion rates.
  • PR: Focus on the many ways the Army engages with and positively impacts the African American community, as well as on high-skills Army success stories.

Achievements

  • AA recruitment levels +18% vs. year prior, the highest AA enlistment level since 2003, the beginning of the Iraq war.
  • Parent favorability increased 60% over a six-month period.
  • Increased AA representation in officership program.
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