After successfully salvaging the first campaign of the Army’s “Be All You Can Be” rebrand, the service’s top marketers are back with new advertisements and new leadership.
The next rounds of advertisements — anchored by three cinematic spots collectively dubbed “First Steps” by Army Enterprise Marketing Office leaders — debuted Monday morning, said the office’s interim director, Ignatios Mavridis. First Steps is the second campaign in the “Be All You Can Be” rebrand, which launched in March.
“It tries to be an authentic portrayal of what it means to be a young soldier,” Mavridis told Army Times. “It’s an up close and personal campaign.”
The marketing chief added that the three new cinematic ads and images launching Monday won’t just be on television — the Army has also secured streaming platform buys and “out of home” advertising, such as billboards and posters. The new ads can be viewed at the bottom of this story.
While the featured cinematic ad is a minute long, Mavridis said all three are available in “30-, 15- and six-second spots.” That will allow them to appear in small slots such as during long YouTube videos or on other social media platforms, he said.
The longest of the new cinematic ads, “First Arrival,” depicts Army recruits as they leave home and arrive at basic training, and the second, “First Patch,” shows family members placing patches on their newly graduated soldiers at the conclusion of training. The third spot, “First Target,” shows a new tank gunner engaging a live fire target for the first time.
Notably, none of the advertisements appear to feature a celebrity, as the first round of “Be All You Can Be” commercials did. Although celebrity endorsements are a common marketing technique, they come with risk, as the Army learned when its on-screen narrator, actor Jonathan Majors, was arrested for domestic assault in March. Majors, who has maintained his innocence, faces trial on Sept. 6.
Army Times first reported the service’s decision to pull its new advertisements in the arrest’s wake, which left Army marketers and their advertising contractors working overtime to cut revamped ads and avoid losing millions of dollars of pre-purchased TV airtime during high-profile sporting events.
“I take great pride in saying that our team pivoted so fast when all this transpired that I hope...that the common person wouldn’t have noticed” the switch in content, Mavridis said, praising his team’s “heroic” effort. He also claimed that audience awareness of the campaign was not noticeably impacted by the change.
New direction for director role
In another change for the Army’s Chicago-based marketing office, an officer without marketing experience is due to take the reins as the service’s chief marketing officer in the weeks ahead.
Brig. Gen. Antoinette Gant will take over as the office’s director on Sept. 6, Mavridis said.
Gant’s predecessor, now-retired Maj. Gen. Alex Fink, was hand-picked from the Army Reserve’s ranks of part-time troops to lead the marketing office due to his civilian marketing experience and expertise. The office has also partnered with talent management experts across the Army to develop a marketing officer career field that demands its applicants have significant experience or relevant graduate degrees.
But Gant’s civilian degrees are in civil engineering and engineering management, and the bulk of her recent Army experience has been in the Army Corps of Engineers, where she most recently served as the South Pacific Division’s commanding general.
The new director has done extensive community work, though, including developing partnerships to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics instruction.
Mavridis said the marketing office is “really excited about her coming on board,” and added that her “incredible expertise from contracting...is important in our world.”
Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.