The Marines Just Unveiled Its First Ever Female-Led Recruitment Video And It Is Tough

The spot features rugby, standing up to bullies, and other qualities of being a marine

The Marine Corps currently maintains the lowest number of women among all branches of the armed forces, at only 8.3% of total members. To correct the discrepancy, the Corps has set a goal of increasing female membership by almost 20% in the next two years and recently enlisted a creative agency to make its first overt appeal to women candidates. The ad, created by JTW Atlanta, is the first ad for the Marines featuring a woman in the lead role.

The spot, entitled “Battle Up,” is part of a recent “Battles Won” campaign that speaks to the fighting spirit of Marines and focuses on the life of Capt. Erin Demchko, a real Marine. The video dramatizes the physically tough side of Demchko’s life—standing up to bullies in school, playing rugby, enduring Marine Corps training, and fighting in combat.

Predictably, the move by the Marines has been met with criticism that the Corps is succumbing to political correctness and tokenism. On the video’s Facebook page, the Corps responded to allegations of such by commenting via their account:

“The Marine Captain protagonist of the film is not being portrayed as an infantry officer - she's being portrayed as a logistics officer, which she is. She’s portrayed reacting under fire like all Marines are trained to do, which she’s done in real life, in a real firefight. Her story, service and dedication to our country is no less than any of yours because she happens to be a woman.”

While the directive from the Marine Corps was to appeal to women, the ad firm’s Chief Creative Officer, Vann Graves, said that the goal was not to create an ad about women but to create an ad about Marines that would speak to women. “When the Marine Corps asked how we should make an ad to appeal to women, we knew that the way to do this wasn’t to make a female ad, but to make a Marine ad that shows the various battles someone who joins the Marines would fight. It just so happened to feature a female,” he said to Fast Company.

Graves also speaks to the challenges of creating an ad for the Marine Corps as opposed to consumer products. But, at its essence, the ad, like so many others, remains aspirational. Graves says, “Put another way: consumers don’t go to war, citizens do. So we took what the Marine Corps is about and translated their story in a way that we expect will get people to aspire to be the kinds of citizens the Marine Corps needs.”

The Marine Corps female outreach comes in the wake of a recent Facebook-photosharing scandal.

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