The ads are memorable: A daring adventurer scales a cliff and engages in a fight to the death with a massive dragon. He defeats the beast and earns the right to take his place among The Few and The Proud … the Marines. The campaign and others like it emphasized top-shelf heroism and put masculinity front and center. Strength, bravery, and daring were the calling cards of the Marine Corps.But in recent weeks, the Marines have been getting a reputation for other reasons. Photos of nude female Marines were shared thousands of times online, prompting an official investigation and giving the Corps a serious black eye. Millennials especially, the target market the Marines most need to reach, were repulsed and appalled. Now the Marines are firing back with a new ad campaign that echoes the “Global Force For Good” motto of the Navy. The spots showcase Marines doing good deeds: holding up Toys For Tots boxes or taking down a robber at a mini mart.
The campaign, known as “Battles Won,” has been in the works long before the nude photo scandal broke, but that scandal is hurting the campaign’s effectiveness with the very group the “Battles Won” spots are hoping to attract. The Marines are doing all they can to recruit more than a few good women, and the recent scandal is not helping their cause. To that end, the campaign includes a series of vignettes in which female Marines look strong and proud in their combat gear, representing, the Corps says, a new culture, especially in the treatment of women.
The new campaign will come alongside the time-tested “The Few. The Proud. The Marines” tagline which is not going away anytime soon. While the top brass at the Corps insist they’re not aiming at connecting with women over men, there’s no doubt their new spots are an attempt to counter the negative publicity…and to paint a different picture of the typical “jarhead” Marine. “Battles Won” hopes to convey the message that mental acuity and moral goodness is as important in a Marine as physical strength. This is definitely a shift from the philosophy that saw these elite warriors as the toughest sons of guns in the US Armed Services. Here’s how one Marine, Lt. Col. John Caldwell, assistant chief of staff, marketing, and public affairs at Marine Corps Recruiting Command, broke it down to the Associated Press:
“(The campaign) focuses on what we believe is the irreducible essence of a Marine – which is the fighting spirit… It’s the promise that we make that if there is a fight in which we engage in, we will win. We’ll win that battle and also become a responsible member of our community post-service…”
So, maybe that tough guy reputation isn’t being buried so deeply after all.