JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – While Air Force Recruiting Service continues to develop Total Force recruiting, the command released its first Total Force commercials highlighting opportunities to serve in the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, as well as Air Force Civilian Service.
For AFRS leadership, the importance of Total Force recruiting and marketing is to attract the best and brightest across America. To inform, inspire, and engage high-quality applicants, AFRS aims to meet them where they are at, and offer the ideal opportunity.
“Whether someone wants to serve full time, part time, in uniform, out of uniform as a civil servant, if they want to serve close to their hometown, if they want to see the world, there are plenty of ways to serve in the Air Force.” said Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, AFRS commander. “Our new Total Force ad campaign is called ‘Moments.’ The idea is to let people know that there are multiple ways to serve and make a difference in the Air Force. All we need are the best moments they have to give. Moments of courage, resilience and ingenuity, devotion, integrity, selflessness, and excellence. Full time, part time, in or out of uniform … all we need is their best.”
For the AFRS Marketing Division, these Total Force commercials represent the starting point for pushing the Total Force message to the public.
“These 15-second spots are really our first effort at producing commercials for the Total Force,” said Barry Dickey, AFRS director of strategic marketing. “They’re titled ‘Team,’ ‘Strength’ and ‘Give,’ and they’re designed to highlight the different ways to serve in the Air Force—full-time or part-time, in or out of uniform.”
The initial set of commercials will be 15 seconds with a 30-second commercial soon to follow.
“We’ve found that most of our target audience does not recognize the differences between the components of the Total Force, let alone the different opportunities to serve,” Dickey said. “In the 30-second spot, we’re reinforcing the message that the Air Force is made of many components, all focused on the same mission but serving in different ways and roles. The spot is titled ‘Moments’ and carries the message that the Air Force wants the best of a person regardless of how they choose to serve.”
Dickey compares the AFRS marketing approach toward Total Force recruiting to that of a corporation with the main brand with other brands falling under that umbrella.
“We’ve adopted a ‘branded house’ strategy, where all brands support/reinforce each other through a ‘parent brand.’ Apple is a great example of this with their many i-products (iPhone, iPods, iMac, etc.). We’re trying to find efficiencies in our programs by reducing duplication of effort and competitions between the component marketing programs,” Dickey said. “For instance, instead of the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command and Regular Air Force all purchasing national TV advertising time, we will brand all of our commercials with the logos of the Total Force and only make one national advertising buy.”
Dickey is certain Total Force is the correct way forward for recruiting and knows there are bumps along the path.
“Anyone who’s done work with the Total Force understands it’s the best way to accomplish a mission. TF integration always comes with some growing pains and is at times difficult, but in the end you have a better, more effective, more efficient organization,” Dickey said. “We’re really looking forward to completing this integration, to include having all national marketing/advertising programs under one contract, and really getting after the marketing needs of the Total Force and our recruiters.”
While each of the components have different needs and audiences at times, the marketing team is aware of this and intends to use the Total Force concept when needed or use component-specific advertising when appropriate.
“It’s important to note that our strategy maintains the brands of the components while tying them all together,” Dickey said. “The AFRS Marketing Division understands that there are significant differences in the components, and we’ll continue to advertise for specific components when it makes sense.”
The Total Force recruiting enterprise has been making strides for more than two years and has many accomplishments to date.
“We’ve modified our Total Force Call Center and Lead Refinement Center to service ANG applicants and recruiters, and we’ll absorb the AFRC mission April 1, 2021,” Dickey said. “Our Marketing division is integrated with AFRC and RegAF members and we plan to have ANG members on board this summer. We’ve already been branding our partnerships and events as Total Force, but these commercials are really the first big advertising effort that will be visible for the force.”
Because each component has a different culture and slightly different ways of doing business, Dickey understands the importance of having an integrated marketing team.
“There are significant differences in everything from the target audience of our advertisements, to the message we’re trying to convey, to the way we deliver it,” Dickey said. “Integrating the Marketing Team here at the headquarters is invaluable to our overall success. It helps us get a better understanding of the differences in the components and ensures we’re providing the best support possible for our recruiters.”
The Total Force commercials will debut on ESPN during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and will be featured on Hulu, TBS, ESPN and the Discovery Channel. Click on each link to view the 15-second commercials: team, strength and give.