Army bonuses may get cut for marketing initiatives

Future U.S. Army signup bonuses could be lower than previous offer

The U.S. military is shifting funds from bonus offers to recruitment ads with help from the Chicago-based Army advertisement team that was instated this past summer, according to a report by the ArmyTimes.

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Modern tactics such as big data and targeted advertising are said to show promise in recruitment efforts, as noted by the U.S. Army’s assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs, Eugene Wardynski.

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“We work pretty closely with RAND Corp. They have a project that’s been going on for several years, looking at what’s the efficient mix of recruiters, enlistment bonuses and advertising,” Wardynski told the ArmyTimes. “Based on [RAND’s] model, we think we’re probably at about 60 percent of what we ought to be spending on advertising."

"And so we’ve had good discussions with Congress about what the way forward ought to look like and bumping up those resources and moving resources out of other programs, because the advertising is a lot more effective than other spends we could make right now,” Wardynski added.

The funding for these ambitious marketing initiatives are likely to “come out of some bonus programs first, and then the sizing of the recruiting force would be next,” according to Wardynski.

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In the past year, the military offered monetary incentives to attract new recruits, which included infantrymen bonuses that could reach up to $40,000 for a six-year signup. It is not clear how this potential cut may impact recruitment efforts.

"This office was stood up after the budget was already put together. So this team is running on a very lean budget, and it came down from a large budget,” Wardynski said regarding the possible shift of funds.

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The Army Marketing Enterprise Office was moved from the Pentagon last year in order to be closer to its partner ad agency, DDB Chicago. The team is staffed by uniformed military personnel and civilians and is tasked with managing the U.S. Army’s branding and recruitment.