Earlier this month, an Army Experience Center (AEC) opened in the Franklin Mills Mall. Yeah, you read that right. Experiential marketing at its best, where aimless youth can experience — virtual-style — what it’s like to fly a Black Hawk chopper or cruise in a Humvee.
When I was sixteen and feeling full of angst, I would head over to a music store and plug in some electric guitars. Today’s teen can do that, too — but when HE leaves Sam Ash, the AEC will be waiting for him just across the way. And when he’s done playing in this dubious virtual arcade, he’ll be invited to hang out in the AEC Café and have a mochaccino with some big-toothed Army recruiter in a Polo shirt, who raps with him about how awesome military life is.
Sound like a place you’d want YOUR kids to hang out? Me neither. (Oh, the kicker: the AEC cost $200M in taxpayer — i.e., YOUR — money to build. I didn’t even know this shit was going on, did you?)
McCann-Erickson spearheads this military branch’s “Army of One” branding. Far as who handles the direct and interactive marketing ... it’s pretty hush-hush. Guess no agency wants to assume that polarizing identity. I’ve heard various rumors: one pins the account to Avenue A/Razorfish, another has it at Gillespie, another slates Roska as the owner.
Anyone know for certain?