Thursday, January 18, 2007

USAF Message (again)

Earlier this month I wrote about the USAF message. To quote:

"If the USAF wants to be taken seriously as a military service, it needs to start by taking itself seriously. If it wants people to start respecting the sacrifices its personnel are making, it needs to start respecting itself. It needs to identify with its roots, not try and rebrand itself to chase after the flavor of the week according to some marketing guru. We're currently celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the USAF and the 100th Anniversary of the Airman. Let's take advantage of that and come up with an ad similar to the USMC's "Pride of the Nation." We've got 100 years of history to draw on, I think we can do something that will highlight the independence, importance, and relevance of the USAF."

Today for Leadlab we had Commander's Call. For the non-military among you, Commander's Call is a chance for the Commanding Officer of a unit to periodically gather the entire unit together and talk to them about whatever he wants to discuss. In the context of AFROTC it means that our Det CO gets up and says a few words about his philosophy, what he expects out of us this semester, and any rules/regs that he wants to emphasize. He started off by playing a video that debuted at the dedication of the Air Force Memorial in D.C. on 14 Oct of last year. As you watch, keep in mind what I said above about celebrating the history of the USAF.

Alright, first, the positives. Setting aside the music, the video is actually pretty awesome. It does more or less what I asked of the USAF. First, connect with our history. The early video of WWI was awesome, and I got chills during the cut at the beginning from the F-15 to the formation of old WWII era bombers. Second, show that the USAF is more than shiny fighter jets. I think every major area of the USAF was represented; EOD, AFSOC, Space and Missiles, maintenance, even logistics. Finally, show that the Air Force is sacrificing as well in this current war. The scene with the bugler, the girl receiving the folded flag, the missing man formation, and the honor guard rendering the traditional salute showed that very well.

Okay, so now for the negative. What was with that music? It reminded me of Michael Bolton. By the end, it has the feel of a goddamn Disney singalong. The poignant moment I mentioned above about sacrifice is set to cheesy synthesized strings. After that we get treated to a bit of gospel. Why? Beyond me. Finally, the lyrics. "Those were the days when anything could happen" set to a shot of a B-24 getting its wing blown off in flames. Who wrote this abomination? 13 men just died and you're singing a song about how "anything could happen." Fantastic. You know, the one common factor through most of the Air Force commercials that I have a beef with seems to be their poor choice of music. A lot of the other cadets I talked to indicated that they felt the same way about the music. The visuals in the video were sweet, and it starts out well, but then degenerates into the Disney crapfest.

I give this commercial a B for effort, but a D for overall effect. The craptacular music is just too overpowering. For some suggestions on how to do music right, go here and here. The other services seem to know how to get it right, why can't we?

In the larger marketing picture, to my knowledge this video has not been disseminated to the public at large. That really is the problem. Until this video has been divided into smaller segments and aired in the manner of the Marine PSA, it's not serving the purpose I laid out in the quote at the top of this post.

Better, but not good enough.