Army senior leaders promised to spend 2019 bringing the service’s recruiting and marketing organization into the future, and they’re taking a big proverbial step with a new app designed to figuratively put the American people into boots.
Launched April 11, “In Our Boots” is part of a larger recruiting campaign ― complete with hashtag ― to open up a discussion on what it’s like to serve in the Army, according to a brand manager at the Army Marketing and Research Group.
“Those individuals that are in the actual 360, those are actual soldiers doing their jobs,” James Cox told Army Times on April 15, describing the app, an immersive experience much like a first-person shooter game.
“In Our Boots,” both the app and the campaign, have been in the works since 2017. Originally there were two concepts for the app: A choose-your-own adventure-style game, Cox said, did not test as well as the virtual reality version they brought to market.
“This one won in research,” he said, after getting feedback from 17- to 24-year-olds in Richmond, Virginia, and Chicago.
When you open the app, you see soldiers about to load into a CH-47 Chinook. You can either move the phone or drag your finger across the screen to get a 360-degree view.
Rest your cursor on one of four soldiers, and you’ll get a story from their career about what they do. Staff Sgt. Davis is a sniper, Sgt. 1st Class Tanaka is a bomb technician, 1st Lt. Pickett is a tank commander and Sgt. Rodriguez is a drone operator.
It took three days to film the scenarios, Cox said. They started with four jobs, but there are plans to add more, he added.
“I gave them a whole bunch of ideas. One of them was, they need to go out and do a whole airborne training thing,” Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey told Army Times on Tuesday, April 16.
He got his own VR headset demo in his office on launch day.
“I want to do every MOS in the Army, that’s what I told them," he said. "Infantry to astronaut.”
Within the app are all of the links one would need to continue researching a job in the Army or to reach out to a recruiter.
To go along with it, the Army launched the #InOurBoots hashtag on April 11, which has been used thousands of times across social media platforms.
Next up, Cox said, short commercials will roll out exclusively online, through sites like YouTube, Twitch and online gaming platforms.