How the U.S. Marines brought Rambo and Bono together through research (and why)

JWT Atlanta


No one imagines a return of the draft but, the truth is that the all-volunteer force, (the "legal name" of the U.S. military) continues to be something of an experiment whose success, like that of any commercial marketer's, is far from guaranteed and depends, (again, as with any marketer) on a steady stream of insight and analysis into both the "market" and wider social trends. Recruitment research has grown more sophisticated over the years driven by industry innovation in such things as sampling and analytic techniques. But its focus on in-category brand differentiation and econometric modeling has ignored an issue that's recognizable to even casual observers—the military is culturally and demographically separating from the larger society. While this lack of attention isn't especially surprising—"culture" remains a slippery concept—our client's staying relevant demanded a look at things through more of a cultural lens. "Political-culture" disciplines this unwieldy notion by confining it to attitudes, beliefs and feelings toward the public realm and its institutions, the realm of our client. Our submission describes how research designed with such a lens helped this venerable American brand envision a way to overcome seemingly intractable divisions within the country it faithfully serves.