In my two 9.5-hour drives this past week (with the toddler, heading to and from the beach), I listened to quite a bit of NPR. Thankfully, Sylvia tolerated this, as she was either asleep (a bit) or engrossed in watching Nick Jr. downloaded shows on the iPad (a lot). Anyway, one story in particular really caught my interest. It was about how the U.S. military is branding themselves - on everything from cologne to purses - to meet dual goals of raising money and brand awareness.
I think most people are fascinated to see nontraditional entities jump into the world of marketing and sales. We often disapprove of it - like churches making money, or even politicians. But I think the military is brilliant to do this. First, as the interview points out, it allows them to protect the brand. People have been using the Marines logo on tasteless t-shirts for decades; now the Marines can actually control that (similar to the terrible Calvin stickers that are illegally made from Calvin and Hobbes imagry). Next, it makes the brand cool. I know plenty of people with "ARMY" t-shirts or Marines-themed work-out clothes that aren't affiliated with the military. Especially in the wake of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, people want to show off their support of our troops. A cool brand means more support from the public, and more recruits. Kids today understand brands at such a young age -- why not brand important things like volunteer service?
I hope the military doesn't receive a blacklash for this. While some may judge "Deployment Blues" candles or kids' watches, I think it's all part of a proper corporation branding themselves wisely and knowing their audience. And especially at a time when everyone is so upset about government spending, let's encourage a branch of the government to make their own money! Hey, it may not pay for the $3.2 trillion spent on the past 10 years of wars, but it's a start.