RECOGNITION OF MILITARY ADVERTISING SLOGANS AMONG AMERICAN YOUTH

Wayne Hintze
Westat, Inc.

Jerry Lehnus
Defense Manpower Data Center

Introduction

The military Services rely on two primary recruiting tools to reach American youth and attract them into the U.S. Armed Forces. One is the military recruiters themselves, who are usually the "cream of the crop" in their respective Services; the other is military advertising. The objective of military advertising is to create awareness and to present a professional image of each Service. The Youth Attitude Tracking Study (YATS) survey contains several questions about military advertising which may inform the Services about the impact of their advertising campaigns.

As part of their advertising campaigns, the Services have one or more slogans that appear as primary elements in their advertising campaigns. Recognition of those slogans can provide a measure of the impact of an advertising campaign. This report presents trends in slogan recognition among young men and women between the ages of 16 and 21 from the 1987-1995 YATS. These respondents have no more than two years of postsecondary education and live in the contiguous United States. Because of these demographics, these youth are considered a prime target of military advertisers. This report examines trends in slogan recognition among males and females who were interviewed. Additionally, patterns among incorrect responses are also presented because results provide additional information.

Trends in Slogan Recognition

Actual Service slogans were read to respondents and the youth were asked to identify the Service which used it. If the name of the Service was included in the slogan, the Service name was replaced with the word "Blank." Table 1 presents the percentage of young males who correctly identified the military advertising slogans which were asked between 1987 and 1995. Data that appear in this report reflect weighted percentages and are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Table 1 and Figure 1 show the Army slogan Be All You Can Be and the Air Force slogan Aim High have the highest levels of recognition. Both of these slogans have been used in advertising campaigns since 1980, however, trends in recognition of the two slogans differ. Recognition of Be All You Can Be increased over the 1987-1995 period (from 82 to 91 percent), while recognition of the Air Force slogan Aim High decreased (90 to 82 percent). The Marine Corps slogan The Few. The Proud had the next highest level of recognition among males. Recognition of this Marine Corps slogan, like that of the Air Force slogan, decreased over the years, dropping from 80 percent in 1987 to 71 percent in 1995.

A second cluster of slogans includes the second Army slogan Get an Edge on Life, the second Marine Corps slogan We're Looking For a Few Good Men, and the Navy slogan You and the Navy Full Speed Ahead. Of all slogans analyzed, the Navy slogan You and the Navy. Full Speed Ahead shows the largest increase in recognition from 41 percent in 1990 to 54 percent in 1995.

Table 1.

Slogan recognition: Percentage of males correctly identifying advertising slogans

Slogan

Service

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

Be All You Can Be.

Army

82

81

85

88

89

89

88

90

91

Get an Edge on Life.

Army

 

 

 

62

59

69

54

58

61

Itís Not just a job. Itís an Adventure!

Navy

31

25

23

14

13

11

14

14

18

You and the ___. Full Speed Ahead

Navy

 

 

 

41

46

46

48

53

54

The Few. The Proud.

Marine Corps

80

79

76

81

78

77

73

72

71

We're Looking For a Few Good Men

Marine Corps

66

69

69

73

67

 

 

57

59

Aim High.

Air Force

90

89

89

90

89

87

86

84

82

Be Part of the Action.

Coast Guard

 

 

10

5

6

6

2

3

3

Recognition of the Coast Guard slogan Be Part of the Action is very low compared to the four DoD Services. Only 1 of every 10 males correctly identified the Coast Guard slogan in 1989, and its recognition level decreased to 3 percent in 1995. In addition to the slogans presented here, there are also other military slogans which have been used over the years. Recognition levels for Joint Service slogans were generally higher than those for the Coast Guard slogan, while slogans used by the Air Force Reserve and National Guard were recognized by less than 2 percent of the young men and women.

Figure 1. Percentage of males correctly identifying advertising slogans, 1987-1995

Table 2 and Figure 2 present information on slogan recognition for females similar to that just presented for males. Recognition levels among females were generally lower than those found for males. Trends in recognition that are similar among males and females include:

The rank order of slogans based on correct recognition are similar for males and females.

Recognition of the Army slogan Be All You Can Be has increased over the 9-year period, but recognition of the Air Force slogan Aim High has decreased. These are the two slogans most recognized by youth.

Recognition of the Marine Corps slogan The Few. The Proud dropped from 80 to 71 percent of males, and from 65 to 39 percent of females during 1987-1995. This drop was the largest for any slogan among females.

Correct recognition of the Marine Corps slogan We're Looking For a Few Good Men peaked in 1990 and then declined significantly after that.

The largest increase in slogan recognition occurred for the Navy slogan You and the Navy. Full Speed Ahead. Correct recognition increased from 41 to 54 percent of males and from 22 to 39 percent of females during 1990-1995.

Correct identification of the Navy slogan It's Not Just a Job. Itís an Adventure was highest in 1987 (31 percent, males; 21 percent, females) when it was first asked in YATS. Following this peak, recognition dropped over the next 5-6 years before rising again.

Recognition of the Coast Guard slogan Be Part of the Action was highest when it first appeared in YATS in 1989 ( 10 percent-males, 7 percent-females) and has shown a downward trend ever since.

In general, correct recognition of the primary Army arid Navy slogans (Be All You Can Be and You and the Navy. Full Speed Ahead) increased from 1987-1995, and recognition of the primary Marine Corps and Air Force slogans (The Few. The Proud and Aim High) decreased.

Table 2.

Slogan recognition: Percentage of females correctly identifying advertising

Slogan

Service

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

Be All You Can Be.

Army

77

81

83

88

88

91

87

86

88

Get an Edge on Life.

Army

 

 

 

51

52

63

51

53

55

Itís Not just a job. Itís an Adventure!

Navy

21

18

13

9

10

11

8

12

13

You and the ___. Full Speed Ahead

Navy

 

 

 

22

37

32

31

37

39

The Few. The Proud.

Marine Corps

65

62

60

60

58

48

47

42

39

We're Looking For a Few Good Men

Marine Corps

38

41

43

47

46

 

 

33

30

Aim High.

Air Force

77

75

75

72

70

67

67

64

62

Be Part of the Action.

Coast Guard

 

 

7

4

3

5

1

2

2

Figure 2. Percentage of females correctly identifying advertising slogans, 1987-1995 Incorrect Slogan Recognition

To this point in the report, discussion has focused on correct slogan identification, but there are also notable findings among incorrect responses. Table 3 (males) and Table 4 (females) present the percentage of youth who identified certain Services for each slogan, correct and incorrect, along with the percentage who answered "Don't Know." Correct responses (Services) are shaded in the tables.

All of the incorrect identifications favor the Army, with two exceptions. The Joint Service slogan Stand Up. Stand Out was most often attributed to the Marine Corps by both genders, although a majority of the females said they did not know when asked. Male respondents also incorrectly identified the National Guard slogan Americans at Their Best as being a Marine Corps slogan most often.

Incorrect slogan identification might be affected by several factors. First, respondents tended to guess at the identification of a slogan rather than say they didn't know. More females admitted to not knowing a response than males. This is not surprising since females receive less exposure to military advertising than males because the Services focus more on males as a primary target in their advertising campaigns. In guessing, youth may have tended to guess the Services with which they were most familiar, or for which they recalled military advertising. The Army may also benefit from a tendency of the public to refer to the U.S. military as "the Army."

Incorrect slogan identifications may also be due to individual associations between perceptions of a given Service and the images which are projected by an advertising slogan. For example, Americans at Their Best may be identified with the Marine Corps because they maintain an image of being an elite force. In any case, Army and Marine Corps awareness seems to benefit from these misperceptions.

Table 3.

Slogan recognition (incorrect responses): Percentage of males who incorrectly identified advertising slogans

Slogan

Service

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

 

Itís Not just a job. Itís an Adventure!

Navy*

31

25

23

14

13

11

14

14

18

 

 

Army

36

41

40

51

48

48

42

39

42

 

 

Don't Know

7

7

9

9

11

12

19

22

23

 

Be Part of the Action.

Coast Guard*

 

 

10

5

6

6

2

3

3

 

 

Army

 

 

20

20

21

18

18

16

24

 

 

Marine Corps

 

 

11

20

21

20

18

14

8

 

 

Don't Know

 

 

37

32

29

36

44

43

43

 

Itís a Great Place to Start

Joint Service*

 

15

15

12

13

12

9

 

 

 

 

Army

 

41

44

43

36

30

25

 

 

 

 

Navy

 

14

13

12

13

15

16

 

 

 

 

Don't Know

 

12

12

13

18

20

27

 

 

 

Opportunity is Waiting for You.

Joint Service*

 

 

 

13

17

17

13

 

 

 

 

Army

 

 

 

21

23

23

23

 

 

 

 

Navy

 

 

 

16

17

17

15

 

 

 

 

Don't Know

 

 

 

24

26

24

30

 

 

 

Stand Up. Stand Out.

Joint Service*

 

 

 

 

7

8

6

 

 

 

 

Marine Corps

 

 

 

 

26

28

26

 

 

 

 

Army

 

 

 

 

12

11

11

 

 

 

 

Don't Know

 

 

 

 

42

38

43

 

 

 

Itís a Great Way to Serve.

AF Reserve*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

0

0

 

Army

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25

21

16

 

Marine Corps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

11

14

 

Don't Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

42

41

45

Americans at Their Best.

Army/Air NG*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

2

2

 

Marine Corps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24

23

21

 

Army

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18

17

14

 

Don't Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

44

42

44

Note: * indicates correct response

Summary and Conclusions

Youth who participated in YATS were asked to identify slogans used by the Services in their advertising campaigns as a means of measuring advertising awareness. Trends in slogan recognition from 1987 to 1995 show that there were gender differences in levels of recognition -- more males than females correctly identified Service slogans. Although recognition levels were different between males and females, there were many trends and patterns that were very similar for males and females.

In general, correct recognition of the primary slogans used by the Army and Navy increased from 1987-1995, and recognition of Marine Corps and Air Force slogans decreased. The Army slogan Be All You Can Be and the Air Force slogan Aim High were the two slogans most recognized by youth. The Navy slogan You and the Navy. Full Speed Ahead experienced the largest increase in correct recognition of any slogan for males and females. Slogans used by the Coast Guard, Joint Services, Air Force Reserve, and National Guard were seldom identified correctly by youth.

Findings were also presented on incorrect responses. Most of the incorrect responses favored the Army, although two slogans were attributed to the Marine Corps -- Stand Up, Stand Out (Joint Service) and Americans at Their Best (National Guard). Females were also more likely to say that they did not know the correct response to a slogan than males, which may not be surprising since females receive less exposure to military advertising.

Table 4.

Slogan recognition (incorrect responses): Percentage of females who incorrectly identified advertising slogans

Slogan

Service

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

 

Itís Not Just a Job. Its an Adventure!

Navy*

21

18

13

9

10

11

8

12

13

 

 

Army

36

36

35

41

39

35

26

27

28

 

 

Don't Know

11

12

18

20

21

27

44

38

41

 

Be Part of the Action.

Coast Guard*

 

 

7

4

3

5

1

2

2

 

 

Army

 

 

21

19

20

16

16

17

27

 

 

Marine Corps

 

 

12

13

16

14

11

10

6

 

 

Don't Know

 

 

41

41

40

42

57

54

49

 

Itís a Great Place to Start.

Joint Service*

11

12

10

11

11

8

 

 

 

 

 

Army

36

35

33

27

23

21

 

 

 

 

 

Navy

13

14

12

10

9

12

 

 

 

 

 

Don't Know

19

19

24

34

38

38

 

 

 

 

Opportunity is Waiting for You.

Joint Service*

 

 

15

17

16

14

 

 

 

 

 

Army

 

 

21

21

21

21

 

 

 

 

 

Don't Know

 

 

29

37

36

38

 

 

 

 

Stand Up. Stand Out.

Joint Service*

 

 

 

7

8

7

 

 

 

 

 

Marine Corps

 

 

 

16

16

16

 

 

 

 

 

Army

 

 

 

11

12

11

 

 

 

 

 

Don't Know

 

 

 

53

53

51

 

 

 

 

Itís a Great Way to Serve.

AF Reserve*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

0

0

 

Army

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20

20

18

 

Marine Corps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

8

11

 

Don't Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

55

51

51

Americans at Their Best.

Army/Air NG*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1

1

 

Army

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

16

14

 

Marine Corps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

13

13

 

Don't Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

59

54

54

Note: * indicates correct response

With an increase in recruiting goals over the next several years, the Services must continue to sharpen their recruiting efforts to remain successful. As in the past, military advertising will play a vital role in the success of military recruiting. It is hoped that this information will provide feedback on advertising awareness that will be helpful in meeting these future recruiting goals.

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