Recruiting in all branches of the military services is facing one of its most difficult times. Various programs are being implemented in the recruiting field in an effort to keep the necessary manning levels of the armed forces. One market that needs a closer look in the terms of influencing perspective young recruits is the Hollywood motion picture industry. Research shows motion pictures have an affect on the attitudes and behaviors of individuals. Scholars have looked at different theories explaining how and to what extent individuals create perceptions from movies. To varying degrees, individuals' existing attitudes also play a key role in allowing movies to mold perceptions.
The recruiting command and military public affairs need to seriously examine motion pictures as a means of positively influencing young people's attitudes. Recruiting, and to some extent public affairs, is the practice of product marketing. In the movie industry, product marketing is simply the act of using props or “brands” as a supporting part of or within a movie. From a recruiting standpoint, using the military as the “brand” or “product” in a movie could be a watershed in the influence of young recruits.
The practice of using brands or props in movies started as a casual process many years ago. Items were simply donated, loaned, or purchased for particular movie scenes to enhance their artistic qualities (Spillman, 1989). Today, brand placement, or the practice of placing brands or props in the context of motion pictures, is a multimillion-dollar business (Berkowitz, 1994; Colford, 1991; Solomon, 1992). This is driven by the need to find new media options for brand exposure (DeLorme & Reid, 1999). The same can be said for recruiting, using the military as the “product” in motion pictures.