NEW YORK: An ongoing internal review of the US Army’s marketing and advertising budget appears to question the effectiveness of almost $1bn spending on marketing programs.

According to a summary of the audit’s findings obtained by Adweek and dating from October last year, the Army Marketing and Research Group (AMRG) only reached one of its six established performance goals in fiscal year 2016.

“In addition, our analysis showed that only 3 of the 23 (about 13%) marketing programs generated a positive impact during the year,” the document said. Twenty different programs costing $36.8m “didn’t demonstrate a positive return”.

The document further described the AMRG spending some $930m between 2013 and 2016 “on marketing efforts that potentially didn’t provide best value to support Army recruiting” and observed that the body planned on spending another $220m between 2018 and 2023 “for the same ineffective marketing programs”.

In its defence, the AMRG responded that it has long been aware of the need for a new marketing strategy and has been working to develop a more ROI-focused approach.

It went on to note that “marketing and recruiting are separate activities” and that connecting campaigns to specific goals “is a challenge in both the private sector in general and for the military in particular”.

The Army Auditing Agency’s conclusions, it said, showed a “lack of marketing understanding or criteria for performance assessment”.

Some US Army recruitment efforts have been effective, such as when it worked closely with the writers and producers of Independence Day: Resurgence, the blockbuster movie, to create the backstory of how the Army helped prepare the world for the next alien invasion during the time between the original Independence Day, which came out in 1996, and 2016’s Independence Day Resurgence.

This campaign, which on a Gold in the Effective Use of Partnerships and Sponsorships category in the 2016 WARC Media Awards, generated a higher total volume of activations (defined as contacts with a recruiter) on at a cost 68% below a campaign run at the same time a year earlier.

Before Christmas, Adweek also reported that a competitive review for the US Army’s advertising contract, held by McCann since 2005, had been compromised by a personal relationship between the director of marketing at the AMRG and a former McCann executive.

Sourced from Adweek; additional content by WARC staff