Thursday, April 07, 2005

I so much don't understand how to appeal to today's youth . . .

I've been out getting in some spring skiing over the last few days (which explains my lack of posting, by the way.) The skiing conditions have been great - T-shirt weather and powder - and the cabin is anything but spartan, with, among other amenities, more cable channels than I can count.

One of them is the Outdoor Life Network, which ran a show on avalanche dogs that I really wanted to see right before putting on skis. The part that I thought was most disturbing though, were the commercials. Specifically, the recruiting commercials, and even more specifically, the Air Force recruiting commercials.

First off, I'm not sure why I'm seeing Air Force recruiting commercials instead of Army - the last thing I saw about the relative strengths of the Air Force and the Army indicated that the Air Force was trying to shed people while the Army was trying to find more. In fact, I read about something called the Blue to Green program, which attempts to get people to migrate from the Air Force or Navy to the Army (and that must be a hard sell - I can see it now: "Hey, Airman, remember when you wanted to join the military and your dad told you about being in the Cav in Vietnam, and told you join the Air Force, or the Navy if you had to, but, never, never even think about the Army? Well, do we have a deal for you!")

Besides, you'd think that the Air Force would be advertising on the Sci-Fi channel or something. If you're interested in the details of the Ididarod, or of avalanche rescue dog teams, the Army is probably more your speed.

The real thing that bothered me about the commercials, though, was the theme. The first one featured a girl staring mesmerized at an approaching tornado, while her father screams frantically at her and finally has to come and grab her and drag her to safety. She grows up to be a mission specialist on the space shuttle.

The second features a pack of snowboarders who board past the prominent trail out sign and get lost. One of them has the technical acumen to actually read a GPS and figure out that, yep, they're not where they're supposed to be. He grows up to be the navigator on a bomber. The tag-line for both commercials was "We've been waiting for you."

Waiting for what? For a girl who doesn't have the sense to get under cover when a freaking tornado's screaming towards her house? For a guy who boards right past a Trail Out sign? Yeah, I know this is supposed to appeal to the gnarly, rad kids out there, but c'mon. There is a difference between cool and stupid, and I'm not really sure we should be pandering quite that hard.

(Besides, kids, let me let you in on a little secret - in the Air Force, with some few exceptions, it's the officers who have all the fun. You're not going to enlist out of high school and go into space, or even get to fly a jet. If you want to be an astronaut or to fly a B-1, stay in college, and major in a hard science or engineering. If you want to fight in a war, try the Army or Marines.)


Blogger Synova said...

What? You've never gone out to watch a tornado? Not a *big* one, but a funnel cloud? That part of that ad didn't bother me. The "out in a spaceship" part did, though. ARGH. And my BIL actually did fly satellites for the Air Force for quite a few years (enlisted) but he did that from underneath a mountain, not out in space.

The snowboarding ad is okay, more or less. But they aren't supposed to appeal to 40 year old women.

But what about that ad (Army?) with a bunch of action shots and then a guy standing in a car lot looking at a minivan and the voiceover says... "And to think some guy is buying a minivan." That's a fantastic ad for a 40 year old woman. It's probably even better for a man my age... staring the dreaded minivan in the eye and wondering how his life ever came to this. But what 17 or 18 year old thinks far enough ahead in life to fear the minivan? A minivan is like mortality... kids don't believe it will ever happen to them.

3:12 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Speaking of the Air Force commercials featuring stupid kids, there's the one with the "hard-core adventure junkie" type 18 year old who fearlessly leaps off of what looks like a 50-75 foot cliff into a deep (apparently rockless) pool. They they cut to a shot of a pararescueman jumping out of a USAF MH-60 into the ocean. Because everyone who goes into the Air Force gets to be a PJ and all...

And like synova said, you've never gone out to watch a tornado? Heck, that's what everyone does in Nebraska. If the sirens go off, you turn on the TV and see what exactly is happening; as long as its not a tornado on the ground anywhere near your house, you go outside and start looking for it.

Anyway, I'm not sure who has the best commercials: the Marines have the same one they've had since..well, probably since they started airing commercials. The Air Force has teenagers doing stupid things, the Army has the "I'm 40 years old and a big pussy" effect, and the Navy has Godsmack.

5:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And let's not forget "Operation Night Strike", also available on

Maybe SFAG can vouch for that one?

Tom M

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Kristy said...

Never been anywhere near a tornado - I live in earthquake country - but I can’t imagine going outside to check one out.

Do you take requests? I skimmed through your archive and found half of a story about an assault on a terrorist compound, and a promise to finish the story, but I didn’t see the follow up. If you’ve already posted it, could you point me to it? Or if you haven’t gotten around to it, would you consider finishing it up now?

Oh, and one more request. You said the follow up would be titled "We get screwed by the Air Force." Take it easy on the fly boys. That was my father’s branch of service. :-)

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second Kristy's request to find out what happened at the compound. We want the rest of the story, dude. :-)

6:41 PM  
Blogger Synova said...

I had a second thought about the minivan ad. I read somewhere or other that the Army was going to try to appeal to parents since they were most likely to discourage their children from enlisting. The minivan ad might work well for that if it encourages fathers to feel that there are some things that young people really ought to have the opportunity to do.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Chevy Rose said...

Boy! do like minds think the same about those ads. GO ARMY!
And stay safe, God bless.

10:58 PM  
Blogger SMSgt Mac said...

Boy, The Air-Force-as-not a real-combat-branch meme is getting quite a workout on the blogs these days. This recent trend caused me to check the latest Army MOS listing to see if they've eliminated all the non-combat arms jobs or something, and nope - looks about the same amount of tail to tooth.
Your point about the father advising the son really hit home though. My Dad was a Sailor/Soldier/Airman (in that order) before he was a Tech Rep who spent most of the second half of the 60's going all over Vietnam putting hard-broke Hueys, Cobras, Mohawks and Chinooks back in the air. When I enlisted after high school, Vietnam was still going on and (being kind of a family thing) I decided to enlist. I asked my Dad what service he thought I should pick. His only response was that they were all about the same, but the "Air Force lived the best".
After 20 years AF, and working as a 'purple suit' for over half of them, I can still say Dad was right: The services are all about the same. Members just have slightly different brands of B.S. to put up with depending on the mission. BTW: I have a buddy who's a former Ranger O-3, who's perplexed about the AF as well. He's told me at least a dozen times how he can't get over how the AF gives the enlisted folks all the leadership and management training the Army gives its officers, while giving its officers (fighter pilots) all the killing power of an infantry squad.

As to the AF ads: Look at them with an 18 year old brain:
Tornado Ad = Thirst for knowledge overcomes fear
Diving Ad = Taking a plunge into the unknown - i.e. testing yourself.
I'd guess the AF wants to appeal to these kind of kids because they know they will eventually overlay their urges with common sense. As I'm certain you have discovered, taking risks to accomplish a higher purpose quickly makes pointless thrill-seeking seem so hollow. Look back at all the stupid risks you took when you were young and immortal (perhaps you still are?)...and shudder over them now.

3:45 AM  
Blogger El Capitan said...

Coming from one of those Air Force Officers who have all the fun, you're almost right. There are some fun things to do as an enlisted guy in the AF, you just have to choose wisely. Good post! The commercials are pretty lame. I prefer the Marine fighting off a dragon or an Army guy doing his own thing as an Army of One. Even better, a Navy guy playing guitar on the deck of his ship. That's realistic all right.

4:20 AM  
Blogger militarybrat said...

As a zoomie myself i have to say that reading that explains alot.

I was recently in the aor myself...a hostile fire zone of course, where we were required to wear these "sniper bait" reflective belts during periods of reduced visibility.

Apparently our commander didn't want any non combat casulties due to motor vehicle incidents. There is a high volume of pedestrian traffic on the base. Good enough...saftey first. So as a responsible nco, i wore my belt and was the best little sniper target i could be.

But every once in awhile... as i was walking around ON THE SIDEWALK, in coalition city where there is NO VEHICLE TRAFFIC ALLOWED, i had to wonder..hmmm maybe we should consider who we let drive hmmm...
where is it we find these people who make these rules....who consistently abuse the right to be stupid.

Well now I know.

11:53 PM  
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2:33 AM  

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