Not Just Strong. Army Strong

The U.S. Army's new recruitment slogan is "Army Strong." Unveiled this week, the motto follows past slogans such as "An Army of One" and the long-running "Be All You Can Be." Michele Norris talks with Gina Cavallaro, staff writer at Army Times.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

The army has a new recruiting slogan. An Army of One is out. Its replacement -Army Strong. The new one comes from advertising agency McCann International, which has the army's $200 million advertising contract.

Gina Cavallaro is a staff writer at the Army Times, which is an independent newspaper published by Gannett.

Gina, thanks so much for being with us.

Ms. GINA CAVALLARO (Army Times): Hi, Michele. It's good to be here.

NORRIS: Army Strong. What is the army trying to say with this new slogan?

Ms. CAVALLARO: That's a good question, but they spent most of the week explaining that. They unveiled it on Monday at the Association of U.S. Army annual conference. What they're trying to say, according to the army leaders, is we are the strongest army in the world and that's because there's nothing stronger than a U.S. Army soldier.

NORRIS: Now before we go on, here's a little clip from the old campaign, Army of One.

(Soundbite of television ad)

Sergeant C.J. OVERWAY(ph): He is proof that one soldier can and does make a difference. Sergeant C.J. Overway. An Army of One.

NORRIS: Gina, does the army think that that campaign was a failure?

Ms. CAVALLARO: I couldn't get them to answer that question. I asked the secretary of the army if he thought that the slogan Army of One had hurt recruiting efforts, and he didn't directly answer the question. He did a good job moving on, saying that all they're doing is creating a new image and that they had wrapped up all the previous ad slogans into this new Army Strong.

NORRIS: How does it compare to previous slogans, if we were to reach back to the 1970s?

Ms. CAVALLARO: Well, let's see. In the environment after the Vietnam War, they used Today's Army wants to join you.

NORRIS: Sounds like the draft reaching into your mailbox.

Ms. CAVALLARO: Right. It sure does. That was from 1971 to 1973, and it got the hook, got the gong, you know, after two years. For six years after that, it was Join the people who've joined the Army.

And then from '79 to '81, another short-lived one was This is the army.

That seemed like it needed a lot of images so you could say well, show me what the Army is.

NORRIS: Right. It seems like it's ancillary, that it needs to be accompanied by something to show what this actually is.

Ms. CAVALLARO: And then the most successful one of - their Be all you can be was 20 years, from '81 to 2001, until Army of One came along.

They're saying that this Army Strong slogan is a wrap up of all their campaigns, so.

NORRIS: What does the Army leadership say about the current environment and the role of this slogan in trying to attract new recruits?

Ms. CAVALLARO: Specifically, Army Secretary Frances Harvey, he told me that -he acknowledged that it's a tough recruiting environment. But they met their recruiting goals this year, at least in the active duty. They were almost all the way there in reserve and National Guard. They recruited more than 80,000 soldiers and they like to say, over the past year, they recruited 175,000 soldiers.

NORRIS: Historically, how important are these recruiting slogans in defining the Army? How important are they to people within the army and also to be used as a recruiting tool?

Ms. CAVALLARO: Well, that's a good question, Michele. I think, when I was talking to some of those young guys down there, I asked them if an Army of One had swayed their decision to walk into a recruiter's office and they said no. They looked at me like I had three eyes, like, are you crazy?

A few people pointed out well, Army Strong is a recruiting slogan. It's not the Army slogan. The Army is boots on the ground, call to duty. But they're really using their recruiting success in the last year to sort of drum up this patriotic feeling in people.

Army Strong, at least for one soldier I spoke to, got him choked up. He said when he heard that slogan, there's nothing on this green earth stronger than the U.S. Army and that's because there's nothing stronger than a U.S. Army soldier. I mean, he just lost it. He said the Army means everything to me, and that's so true. We're the mightiest army in the world."

NORRIS: Gina Cavallaro is a staff writer at the Army Times. She was speaking to us about the army's new slogan, Army Strong. Gina, thanks so much.

Ms. CAVALLARO: Thank you, Michele. It was a pleasure to be here.

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