Air Force Marketing Slogans Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1501 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Military

Air Force Marketing Slogans

The United States Air Force, like most military organizations, utilizes various recruiting slogans to engender emotional and patriotic reactions towards both potential servicemen and as a way to build and maintain internal pride for already enlisted and officer corps. For years, the Air Force used "Aim High," most recently "Cross into the Blue," We've been waiting for you," and " Do something Amazing," as well as the most recent, "Above All" (O'Connor, 2008). Historically, the culture of the Air Force was driven by bombers and then fighters (the so-called Bomber Mafia and Fighter Mafia). However, in 2007, for the first time, an Air Force Chief of Staff was appointed that was neither part of the bomber or fighter cadre), and thus began to change the internal, as well as strategic marketing vision for the organization (Barnes and Spiegel, 2008). Too, the type, quality, and focus of the strategic use of slogans have evolved as culture has evolved which, in turn, changes depending on the country's perception of threat and the role of the military during different historical times.

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Military Sloganeering -- Advertising slogans are typically memorable phases used in advertising campaigns, elections, or to easily identify a group or organization in the mind of the public. Historically, these types of phrases were more generic -- they seemed to fit the general population and were not designed to necessarily fit a specific targeted group. Some of the more popular contemporary slogans that are almost instantly recognizable include: "Army -- Be all you can be;" "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there;" "Sometimes You Feel Like Nut -- Sometimes You Don't;" or "Is it Live, or is it Memorex?"("Marketing Slogans," n.d.).

TOPIC: Research Paper on Air Force Marketing Slogans Assignment

The Air Force was formed as a separate branch of the U.S. military in 1947 under the National Security Act of that same year. Its 2009 mission statement was "Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power"(USAF, 2009). This statement was designed to reflect the new Air Force, a military organization that must reflect the contemporary international security environment that requires balance -- both globally and domestically. Internally, the Air Force has redesigned its own internal definition that summarizes the current culture of the Air Force: The Air Force Core Values are: "Integrity First," Service Before Self," and "Excellence in All We Do" (USAF, "Mission," 2009). Individual units are encouraged to develop their own motto -- as long as it fits with the overall strategy. Some examples include:

Liberatatem Defendimus (Liberty We Defend) -- 2nd Bomber Wing

Kiai O. Ka Lewa (Guardians of the Upper Realm) - 5th Bomber Wing

Mors Ab Alto (Death from Above) -- 7th Bomber Wing

Tutor et Ultor (Defender and Avenger) - 49th Fighter Wing ("USAF Mottos," 2009).

Trends in Sloganeering -- in recent years, the Department of Defense has spent more than $100 million annually on advertising to support military recruiting. The funds are roughly divided into $20 million per service, with $20 in a joint program. In the 1980s and 1990s, it appears that this type of funding has been an effective tool in increasing the number of high-quality enlistees (e.g. high school seniors or graduates who score in the upper half of the Armed Forces Qualification Test). However, the trends in the contemporary world, as well as the dramatic evolution of the complexity of advertising (including modes and prices) resulted in the military's purchasing power for advertising declined by over fifty percent coupled with a clear change in the perceived mission of the military as a whole (Detrouzos and Garber, 2003).

It is also important to understand the general overview of historical changes from the time of the Air Force's inception, and how these changes have, in broad strokes, changed geopolitically, in marketing standards, and with administration or political trends. To summarize this, we see:

Historical Range

Geopolitical Overview

Major Marketing Modes

Political Trends


Start of Cold War, USSR/U.S. tensions, Korean War

Magazines, H.S. Recruitment, appeals to patriotism

Conservative, high amounts of military spending


Vietnam War, Cuban Missile Crisis

As above, add radio

War spending, new weapons and strategies


Global Cold War Tensions

As above, add television

Continual arms buildup


Decline of Soviet Power

Begin to add MTV and Youth oriented Advertising

STAR WARS, outspending the Soviets


Post-Cold War, Gulf War

The Internet, social networks

New politicians and concerns over military spending

Post 2001

911, Terrorism and Beyond, Iraq War

Sophisticated video games, pre-movie advertising using rock music, etc.

Upswing in conservative, militaristic spending

(Source: Hook, 2009; Layne, 2006).

Of course the two primary recruiting tools to reach American youth remain the military recruiting offices, who usually focus on the upper echelon of candidates, and other military advertising -- with the objective to create not only awareness but desire. As part of these advertising campaigns over time, the Services have one or more slogans that are primary elements of the strategic advertising programs. Figure 1 represents slogan recognition from 1987 to 1995 of the Air Force's "Aim High Program" among American males:

The two slogans most recalled by this population during the researched period were the Army Slogan, "Be All You Can Be," which actually increased over the 9-year period, and "Aim High" from the Air Force, which has declined since 1991 for both males and females. Researchers believe that this decline is due to a number of factors: increased advertising and slogans for other services, media cannibalization, and demographic/psychographic attitude (Hintze & Lehnus, 1999)

New Modes of Advertising -- the modern military has been quick to respond to newer forms of reaching young people; the Internet, video games, social networks, special promotions (job fairs and college campuses). These advertisements are designed to convince young people to seek out recruiters, thereby reducing the necessity for intensive human recruiters in a single community. This is especially advantageous during the peach months at the beginning of the year -- when youths begin seriously thinking about their careers and can see that the college tuition and training benefits might very well be the best choice for many ("Why is military," 2008). The sophistication of virtual advertising, sometimes embedded in military video games, coupled with finding ways to include the "Air Force" in movies, graphic novels, games, events, etc. also helps build awareness. With the Air Force particularly, the idea of being the "elite" of the services, with the most opportunities for the intellectual as well, helps bolster interest and recruitment.

Conclusions -- Attitudes regarding the military have changed over the last five decades; from the duty bound of the 1950s to the more passive and cynical 1960s and 1970s, to an understanding of career and professional growth in the post-1980 world. What has changed is the cost and time commitment to recruitment -- from roughly $10,000 per new recruit in the 1980s to more than $25,000 in the late 1990s. This is a result of a more cynical population, more ads being shown, higher ad costs and increased competition between services (Rand).

However, the change from "Do Something Amazing," which some Air Force media specialists felt was too "generic," to "Above All," moves beyond the "Aim High" campaign (1984-2000). Most interviewed concur -- the idea of "Above All" connotes an elite, a service of the air, duty above all else, what the Air Force is striving for, simple, catchy, to the point, and patriotically inspiring ("Mixed Reviews," 2008). Still, in the five-decade scheme of things, while the mode of delivery has changed, the focus on slogans has not, and has in fact become more important as the level of recruit sophistication increases and the number of ad messages multiply.


Barnes, J. And P. Spiegel. (June 10, 2008). "A different type of Air Force leader." the

Los Angeles Times. Cited in:

Dertouzos, J.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Air Force Marketing Slogans.  (2010, March 14).  Retrieved September 25, 2021, from

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"Air Force Marketing Slogans."  14 March 2010.  Web.  25 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Air Force Marketing Slogans."  March 14, 2010.  Accessed September 25, 2021.