U.S. Army changes recruitment approach with new advertising agency

June 7 (UPI) — The U.S. Army announced it will reallocate its marketing, advertising and recruiting funds following an internal audit.

A letter last week from Mark T. Esper, Secretary of the Army, sent to leaders of the Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve, said in part that “this reassignment includes transfer of authorities and responsibilities, personnel, and resources (funding, equipment, and property).” It dissolves the Army Marketing and Research Group and forms the Office of Chief Army Enterprise Marketing, effective Aug. 1.

The new agency will be part of the Army’s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, which oversees all matters related to the management of Army manpower and personnel, and will relocate to Chicago from Arlington, Va., reported Military.com.

Chicago is also the home of the advertising agency DDB, the Army’s new partner responsible for advertising pertinent to recruitment. In November, the Army left McCann Worldgroup, which had been its advertising firm for 12 years. An advertising contract with the Army oversees about $4 billion in spending over 10 years.

DDB has increased its staff since it won the account.

The changes come about nine months after the White House responded to an internal audit by the Army Audit Agency, which sent its findings to the Armed Service Committees of the U.S. Congress. The audit found that in 2016, millions of dollars in “ineffective marketing campaigns” were conducted on behalf of Army recruitment.

The administration of President Donald Trump withheld 50 percent of the Marketing and Research Group’s funding in its latest defense bill proposal.

In 2018, Congress directed the Army to “consolidate our marketing enterprise and reshape the organization into more of a program and business management directorate,” Army spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz said at the time.

The changes are a significant shift in Army plans. It established the marketing group in 2013 to better offer civilians, especially those of age to join the military, a view of the military unfiltered by misperceptions. An increased recruitment total has been its goal.

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