"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance"

--James Madison--

"The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries, but between authoritarians and libertarians"

--George Orwell--

The Navy's Advertising Budget

I can't ski anymore, but I like to watch it on TV now and again. This weekend, the Winter X Games are being held in Aspen, CO, and I decided to catch some of it last night.

So there I am, watching the ladies' Snowboard Superpipe competition. It's really quite impressive to see these women fly 6-10 feet in the air above the pipe, do a trick and come back down to continue. I noticed something else, though. There were banners going about halfway down the slope, on the sides of the pipe, that were emblazoned with the US Navy logo.

Also, the aprons that the competitors wear that have their numbers on them also sported the words "US Navy" in the appropriate military font. Every commercial break contained a TV ad for the Navy, showing the youngsters exactly how cool it is to be on a ship or submarine that launches missiles and stuff.

The ads end with the Navy's current recruitment slogan, "America's Navy--A global force for good".
Do they mean that the Navy does good things, or that we're stuck with it for good? Probably both.
OK, so if you're trying to convince kids that being missile fodder for the US Navy is a cool thing to do, then they could certainly pick worse venues than the Winter X Games. But I got to thinking, at what cost? Literally. In dollars.

What is the Navy's advertising budget? For that matter, what is the armed forces advertising budget?
If you watch TV (I know a lot of folks here won't admit to it), then you've probably seen the ads:
"Army Strong". Sounds kind of like Tarzan, doesn't it? "Tarzan strong. Army strong. Tarzan stronger than Army".

"The few. The proud. The Marines".

"Above All". That's the Air Force recruiting slogan. Kind of cryptic.

How much do all of these ads, sponsorships, and endorsements cost? Not an easy question to answer, as it turns out. The military personnel budget contains lots and lots of different line items, but it doesn't break out advertising costs specifically:


But, for each service, there is a line item labeled "recruiting and advertising". All told, among all of the services, it adds up to about $1.7 billion for 2011. Apparently, this also includes the cost of all of those mall kiosks, recruiting offices, and visits by recruiters to high schools and colleges. "Hey kid, you aren't going anywhere with that degree in French literature. Join the Army, and we'll make you a translator or something".
Of course, most of them will not become translators, but rather "or something". Like maybe infantry. In the case of the Navy, they'll most likely be scraping barnacles.

At any rate, I gotta believe that at least a billion of that is for TV ads and such.

The Navy's budget for this is $253 million. The Marine Corps is also part of the Department of the Navy, but it gets its own separate ad budget anyway. $240 million.

Why do they need to spend that much on advertising? Unemployment is high, and they've had no problem meeting recruiting goals in recent years. They rope in enough kids just by promising to make them translators or electrical engineers or whatever training that they're not really going to give them.

It seems to me that other parts of the government could use that $1 billion. Here in CO, Republicans are trying to cut out the $250K for the free school breakfast program. If the Federal government could pitch in a quarter million, that would help feed some disadvantaged kids.

There are almost an infinite number of ways that that money could be spent that would be more beneficial than running TV ads that tout the US Navy as a global force for good. Or plastering their logo all over the X Games.

WTF? It just goes to show you how much of that $700 billion/yr or whatever (since many military costs are buried in the budgets of other departments, it's really hard to say how much the real military budget is) is simply wasted.

After all, they would probably still have enough warm bodies without spending a billion a year on advertising.