Cover: Is Military Advertising Effective?

Is Military Advertising Effective?

An Estimation Methodology and Applications to Recruiting in the 1980s and 90s

Published 2003

by James N. Dertouzos, Steven Garber


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The Department of Defense has been spending over $100 million annually on advertising to support recruiting. Previous econometric studies of military advertising's effectiveness have relied on data from time periods unlike today's and have used models possibly inappropriate for supporting decisionmakers addressing today's policy issues. This report details improved methods developed to assess military advertising's effectiveness and illustrates them using early 1980s and mid-1990s data. Several policy issues are addressed: How effective has advertising been in increasing enlistments? What media appear to be the most cost-effective? Will budget reallocation improve outcomes? Will an increased budget improve outcomes? An overview of trends in military advertising from 1986 to 1997 is included, as are the results of a search of literature on military advertising as well as in the areas of psychology, marketing, and economics pertaining to persuasion and consumer-product advertising. Application of the newly developed methods shows that the four services appear to have gained considerably from advertising and that in comparison to other alternatives, advertising appears to be an effective recruiting tool.

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in RAND's National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center.

This report is part of the RAND monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of RAND from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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