Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Simpsons brought to you by...the Marines?

Doh! It's Sunday night, that means after the end of the baseball game (Boston 6, Atlanta 3) and 60 Minutes, the Simpsons will be on. You know the Simpsons - the cartoon family that has been on since the days of the Tracey Ullman show - and will later tonight air its 400th episode. The original "Eat my shorts" show is airing its version of 24 right now. Why mention it? Because after the 60 second set up the first commercial was from the Marines. Are we so desperate we are recruiting the kids? Really? Doh.


James-H said...

I'm sure The Simpson's is drawing its fair share of criminals and ne'er do well's (like me and my friends), part of the Armed Forces new recruitment strategy - now that 3500 of our finest have been permanently relieved of duty.

And I mean that with as little smarm as I can muster.

Cameron Beck said...

The Simpsons TV show draws a decent segment of the target audience of the armed services, including those who have recently graduated or who are getting close to graduation, yet don't know what they're going to do with their lives -- or indeed, if they're going to do anything meaningful at all.

Ne'er-do-wells aren't necessarily excluded from that segment, as even nice folks like james-h and his friends might be capable, with the right motivation and training, of becoming decent Marines.

Motivation for doing so is not included in the spot, but if anything, your reaction (and that of james-h) just underscores the limits of television spots, which are meant to cast a wide net. Not everyone is going to be convinced, but not everyone needs to be.

Just FYI - the Marine Corps has been meeting its recruitment goals quite regularly for the last 25 years -- war, casualties, and all. Obviously their marketing efforts have been at least somewhat effective, but truth be told, their recruiting success has less to do with their ads and more to do with the Marines themselves.

archeress said...

yes, apparently we are that desperate; the marines have a myspace page now.

Cameron Beck said...

Recruiting doesn't happen by accident. As far as I know, recruiters still go to schools, too. It should come as no surprise to anyone that their marketing strategy extends to places where their audience already frequents.

Moda di Magno said...

Wow - a throwaway blurb based on an in the moment chuckle brings so much response!

Cam, thank you for your thoughtful comments - I get it, but the juxtaposition of "eat my shorts" and "For Honor" just struck me as so, funny? Odd? Misplaced? Yes, like every other marketer, they are going to where the people are, but it just seemed funny (not the hah hah kind) in the way that it would if the Marines showed up at a Phish concert. Right demographic - wrong everything else.

James- hope the new gig is working out well. I read you loud and clear - and sans smarm.

Archeress - found the ad on YouTube which is now blocked by the DoD. Genius.

Cameron Beck said...

Moda - I would just say this, because the subject came up at work the other day about a different show: Be careful what you think you know about the audience.

I watched The Simpsons episode, too, and I'm a former Marine.

Go figure.

James-H said...

To clarify: not hating on the Marines. I'm referring to the recent (and fairly harsh) spotlight that's been hot on Armed Forces recruiting strategies. Forgive me if I'm confusing the Army and the Marines, here. I understand there are differing standards from one corp to the next.

Certainly The Simpsons, from a pure audience perspective, is the perverbial bull's eye of enlisting-age men 18-25.

(Shall I continue to backpedal?)

Cameron Beck said...

Hm. Difficult to answer. There have been several, distinct spotlights on the Army's recruiting problems over the last several years. I might be wrong on the timing, but I think the Army has been meeting its recruiting goals over the last two years.

However, there have been questions about the integrity of those recruiting efforts, as recruiters have been captured on YouTube flat-out lying to recruits about what kinds of benefits they would receive. There have even been charges of sexual abuse. Pretty seedy stuff that I hope is the tragic exception rather than the rule.

The Marine Corps recruiting success has been relatively steady. Part of the reason for the difference is, I think, the relative size of the recruiting pool for each, but also because the two have vastly different brands that tend to appeal to different types of people.