U.S. Army, Hollywood Team Up to Change Low-Tech Misperceptions

Two-Phase Program Leverages Upcoming 'Independence Day: Resurgence' Movie

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The U.S. Army has partnered with 20th Century Fox around its upcoming movie "Independence Day: Resurgence" to engage recruitment age prospects and bring attention to the service's widely unknown STEM careers and capabilities.

Phase one of the partnership kicked off last month with an ad that encouraged people to visit JoinESD.com to experience different missions as part of the movie's fictional Earth Space Defense Force. After users completed challenges, such as cryptology or microbiology tasks, they were met with information about real STEM and tech careers in the Army.

Mark Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for marketing, said many Americans "view the Army as low-tech and fairly ordinary people, and the truth is very, very different." The Army views the first part of the initiative as a way to highlight its technological prowess, including its tens of thousands of scientists, as well as astronauts, cyber warriors and more, said Mr. Davis.

With the Army's 241st birthday around the corner – June 14 – the Army and Fox are heading into phase two of the program, which centers on separating fiction from reality and celebrating "the real people that make sure the American people get to enjoy movies," said Mr. Davis.

On Tuesday, he added, three soldiers, including an astronaut, a cyber specialist and a Medal of Honor winner, will go on "Good Morning America" in partnership with Fox as a way to show American people some of the faces who continue to "preserve and protect this nation." The soldiers will also ring the NASDAQ bell and take part in some of the Army birthday celebrations in Time Square.

Additionally, a television spot that interweaves "Independence Day: Resurgence" scenes with real Army footage will run nationwide for the next week as well as in cinemas leading up to the movie's release on June 24th. The video is also living on GoArmy.com and the Army's social channels, such as YouTube and Facebook.

Long-time Army partner McCann Worldgroup is supporting the initiative, with McCann NY handling advertising, MRM/McCann on digital and website, UM on media, Weber Shandwick managing PR and social, Momentum Worldwide on events and sponsorships and Casanova/McCann behind Hispanic marketing. McCann also plans on capturing video for social media at an advanced screening of the film on June 21 at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., which is home to some of the most technologically advanced soldiers.

So far on social, the Army has "been having an ongoing social engagement with the director of the movie, the cast and Fox properties," said Mr. Davis. The hashtag for the effort is #ArmyTeam.

Mr. Davis said the partnership with Fox has been a positive experience and it's allowed the Army to learn lessons on how to better work with the entertainment industry. For example, he said a lot of films and shows have portrayed soldiers "in a one-dimensional way" in the past, and the Army wants to show the complexity of the soldiers and the service.

"Hollywood is very influential with the audience we're trying to talk to and we think if we can get them to see us for who we really are and see stories from the Army in a transparent way, it'd be better for the Army, for America and for everyone all the way around," he said.

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