Music and Advertising: How the Military Deceives Recruits

The military presents an incredible opportunity to see personal growth and to develop someone to their full potential. It involves a specific kind of discipline that is able to endure long and strenuous activity. In recent years the military has moved towards a more pop culture approach to recruiting and has used inspiring music and persuasive ads to increase the number of recruits. This is done for a number of reasons, but one of them is that with more recruits the military is able to ensure that they receive the best applications. If they receive more applications they are able to pick and choose specific recruits instead of accepting the bare minimum qualifications. In recent years this has caused for issues with ROTC, enlisted, and OTS admittance rates.

One of the ways the United States advertising has increased recruitment has been through advertising to future citizens. Above is a tweet depicting the enlistment of people around the same time that they earn citizenship. The first thing that these new citizen will experience is going to battle. This is probably not something that they signed up for and if it is it is probably because enlisting became an incentive to gain citizenship.

Army Propaganda

One of the biggest issues that this causes is that people who may be better qualified based on test scores on a piece of paper may not serve as the best person for the job. The military try’s to recruit people they believe can make it through training with the least drop out rate. The only problem with the current recruiting process is that seeing an ad and being attracted to jumping out of plane or wearing a uniform is not going to determine who will be a good candidate to join the military. This also proves to be a false advertisement to future men and woman of the military because it presents an inaccurate portrayal of active duty.

Above is my podcast detailing the inaccurate portrayals of military life in the media and commercials. This podcast is a call to action to raise awareness and hopefully make a change in the way soldiers are treated and respected. Civilians can definitely be a part of the change and will make a profound impact if they partake in caring for soldiers with PTSD and other disorders.

Below is an ad that serves as an example of inaccurate representation of active duty in the military for the Army:


The ad uses ethos to persuade the viewer that it is a duty to serve. it gives the impression that serving ones country is an obligation of every citizen that is physically able to help. This intense feeling of patriotism is not inappropriate at all, but it is how the military depicts serving that is deceitful. The viewer is watching the commercial thinking that the ad is depicting a military career and this is not true. The entire time the commercial is being shown their is inspiring music playing in the background. Loud drums and trumpets leading to a beautiful crescendo. The beginning of the commercial shows the beginning stages of a military tour as soldiers get acquainted to the base. Then the video ends with a military parade. The commercial leaves out a huge majority of the career which is combat. The soldier will be engaging in military conflicts for the entirety of their career most likely. They will be having gun battles, hand to hand combat, and have less than average living conditions. The famous philosopher, John Stuart Mill, puts war into a new perspective when he says:

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worse war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

John Stuart Mill takes the time to recognize that each soldier is willing to fight and die for his country. The soldier is doing a selfless act for the safety of others. The soldier is not hired to see the world or to get out of town. The advertisements confuse people into thinking that joining the military is an opportunity to travel the world and pay for schooling. It is so much more and that needs to be recognized.

The music above serves to represent the sacrifice and honor of fighting men and woman. It becomes a propaganda tool when certain military songs are used during military commercials that do not depict military life.

George Orwell gives a brief understanding of the role of the soldier by saying, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” This is the duty of the soldier and that is what needs to be advertised to future recruits. They need to understand their role and what they are joining. The military is an environment to protect and service not to reap the benefits of military privileges. It is a career that is not for everyone and is extremely gruesome.


The above video is what the military used to use as propaganda in the 1950s. It uses honest words and a solemn voice to depict accurate military lifestyle. It shows real footage of soldiers and gives a brief, but accurate description of the career. Using phrases such as, “high physical performance” and “intense mental effort” to give a solid idea of how a career in the military could turn out.

John F. Kennedy put it well when he said that:

“A young man who does not have what it takes to perform military service is not likely to have what it takes to make a living. Today’s military rejects include tomorrow’s hard-core unemployed.”

John F. Kennedy said this during a time when gaining recruits was necessary, but it still applies today. Joining the military requires determination and that is a crucial element to a lot of careers. The idea that these advertisements don’t even address the constant struggle to stay determined is a disservice to recruits.



Works Cited:

FootageFile. “Military Recruitment, 1950s.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 6 Jul. 2010. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.

GOARMY.COM. “Symbol of Strength – More than a Uniform.” Online video clip. YouTube. Youtube, 24 May 2011. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.


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