As the environment of recruiting becomes more and more demanding, public affairs is being looked upon more to increase awareness and improve the image of each of the five military services.  Currently, this is done through supporting media and athletic events targeted toward those individuals between 18 and 24 years old, as well as advertising directed specifically to this age group.  Both local and national efforts have provided excellent opportunities to reach the public.  However, this is an ever-changing environment and no one tool or technique stays effective indefinitely. 

Currently, through dedicated motion picture public affairs offices located in Los Angeles, the military does provide limited support and resources for movies.  These offices decide if the image presented in the movie of the military is positive and accurate and they coordinate support for the specific needs of the filmmaker.  Completely separate from recruiting, these offices have limited interaction with the recruiting commands of their respective services and thus have never been used as a direct tool for recruiting. 

Research has been done on the impact of movies on individuals' beliefs and feelings, as well as motivating their needs or desires (Austin, 1986; Jeffers, 1997).  In the past, Hollywood was used to assist in informing and motivating Americans to support the war effort during World War II, with moderate success (Jeffers, 1997).  Since then, other researchers have looked at movies as more than a form of entertainment.  Woll (1983) has shown how movies can direct the public's attention and inform them by giving them a clear and comprehensible picture of a certain event. 

For years, recruiters for the military have worked on image recognition and impact through advertising and community events.  However, resources are limited and every opportunity must be exploited to the fullest if the military as a whole is to meet its recruiting goals.  Motion pictures provide such an opportunity. 

While the public affairs offices dealing with movie production look to see if the movie message presented is positive, they have never looked at the effects of movies on the audience, predominately those who would decide to enter the military.  Researchers  such as DeLorme, Reid and Zimmer (1994) have looked into the effect of product placement in films on audiences, but the military has not studied how effective their support of movies has been on informing or influencing audiences.  If seeing military related events and characters have a significant impact of focusing the attention on the military, then this could be used as a vehicle in promoting the military. 

This becomes increasingly important as the level of direct knowledge of the military dwindles.  Movies have become increasingly important in teaching and informing the public about the military (Wetts & Curley, 1992).  By directly supporting the motion picture industry, the military can ensure their portrayal is not only accurate, but also central to the story line.  This could increase the impact of the military theme on the audience and be more beneficial.  These are the things which need to be studied if this aspect of public awareness is to be used to assist in recruiting.




Recruiting is one of but a few endeavors which brings the military directly to local communities.  Because of this, there are many factors that affect its execution and success.  These can't always be eliminated but must be taken into account when performing an analysis of methods to improve recruiting. These extraneous factors were beyond the scope of this study but their general description can be given.

The recent improvement in the economy is the first and most important variable.  While this has recently placed pressure on recruiters of the five military services, as the economy changes, so do levels of recruiting. Opportunities elsewhere, predominately in the private sector, can drawn heavily on the pool of qualified personnel the military uses every year to replenish its ranks.  Better incentives, such as higher salaries and quicker promotions, are factors of a strong economy and fluctuate with it as corporate America aggressively pursues the nations youth.  Coupled with the fact that the five services are all looking for the same type of individual, often placing them in direct competition, the recruiting environment has become a difficult pursuit where every advantage must be explored.

Another limitation of this study is the cyclic trend that recruiting repeats annually.  This is dependent on the availability of applicants and the school year.  Starting in June and lasting until September, the graduating seniors provide a ready pool for the recruiters to work with and perhaps build a backlog of applicants waiting to go to boot camp through the delayed entry program.  October through January is the time recruiters work with those individuals from community colleges or graduating seniors who have decided to postpone college for financial or personal reasons.  Additionally, February through May is the most difficult time for recruiters, as numbers in the delayed entry program have dwindled and other prospective applicants must wait until they finish high school.  This is a common cycle with few changes each year.  This could affect the impact of movies depending upon their release date, thus affecting the validity of the study.

Factors such as military scandals and long-standing perceptions of the military are a real and often difficult roadblocks recruiters face in working with qualified applicants and another limitation to the study.  Regardless of the service, events concerning the military which capture media and public interest can affect a perspective recruits decision to enlist. These existing attitudes are not measured in this study creating a limitation. These impressions or perceptions may be a one-time effect or long standing, greatly changing the potential impact a movie may have at its time of release.  With all of these extraneous recruiting variables, it may be difficult to isolate an effect of a particular movie on a recruit's decision to enlist.




This study covers a method to measure the effectiveness toward recruiting of the armed services' support for military theme motion pictures.  If the results prove to positively affect recruiting numbers or motivate individuals to seek out recruitment, the amount of resources dedicated to movies should be increased and perhaps a greater range of motion pictures supported.  If this study shows recruiting is either negatively affected or there is no effect from motion pictures, the support should be reevaluated and perhaps reduced.