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New Marine ad pitch: Think diversity, not white male

November 10, 2012|By Tony Perry
  • Drexel King, a native of Raleigh, N.C., is featured in the Marine Corps' newest diversity advertising campaign, "Fighting with Purpose."
Drexel King, a native of Raleigh, N.C., is featured in the Marine Corps'… (U.S. Marine Corp. )

The Marine Corps has launched a multimedia advertising campaign aimed at encouraging more women and minorities to join as officers, and ending a decades-old stereotype that the Corps is the domain of white men.

The Marines' “Fighting With Purpose” campaign tracks with the lesson that many pundits have drawn from last week’s election results: The nation’s demographics have dramatically changed.

The campaign, created by the advertising and marketing firms UniWorld Group and JWT, features 1st Lt. Drexel King, an African American based at Camp Pendleton, and Capt. Monica Meese, a Latina raised in Irvine and based at Joint Base Andrews, Md.

King, an infantry officer, and Meese, a KC-130J pilot, served in Afghanistan. Meese also deployed in support of relief efforts after the tsunami ravaged Japan.

“Often when people think of Marines, they think of males,” Meese said. “I hope the campaign helps shape the Marine Corps to represent our diverse nation.”

King, 26, is featured in 30-second commercials that, beginning Thursday, are airing on BET, Nick at Night, MTV, Spike, ESPN, NBA on TNT, and NFL broadcasts. He will also be shown in print ads in Vibe, ESPN Magazine, Diversity Careers, and Sports Illustrated.

Meese, 28, will be featured in print ads in the same publications and in a video on the “Community Impact” page.

The campaign picks up some of the themes of the “Towards the Sounds of Chaos” advertising campaign that made its debut in March and will continue to be the major recruiting pitch. That campaign reinforces the Marines' image as a fighting force ready to confront America's enemies “at a moment's notice.”

Polling and market research had shown that men and women in the 17 to 24 age group are attracted by the Marine Corps’ tradition of being “first to fight,” but also its involvement in humanitarian missions. Also, minorities and women are interested in being leaders and role models in their communities, according to the polling and research.

“It’s always been a part of me to fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves, whether on my block or around the world,” King says in the television commercial.

In the last fiscal year, 4.7% of those joining as Marine Corps officers were African American and 8.4% were Hispanic. In the overall force, enlisted and officer, the Marine Corps has 10% African American and 12.9% Hispanic.

Women make up about 7% of the Marine Corps, in part because the Marine Corps’ main mission is ground combat, where most billets remain off-limits to women. That is changing, with women being encouraged to transfer into some jobs that would put them close to ground combat.

The percentages of women and African Americans in the Marine Corps remain below those of the Army — although the percentages of minorities have been increasing for the Marines in recent years.

“The commandant’s view is that it’s not enough,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of recruiting command, which oversees a $100-million-a-year advertising budget.

“We want a depth of strength in the organization that we won’t have without diversity.”

Commandant Gen. James Amos has made diversity a priority of his tenure as the top Marine, along with recognizing the service of African American Marines during World War II, who were trained separately from whites and often relegated to lesser billets.

“I hope [the ad campaign] successfully portrays a different side of the Corps to the many concerned parents and potential candidates,” King said.

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