Thursday, December 12, 2013

MARKETING THE MILITARY (ARMY NAVY AIR FORCE)

HUMOUR IN UNIFORM

MARKETING THE MILITARY (ARMY NAVY AIR FORCE)
Ramblings of a Retired Mind
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Disclaimer:
1. Please read this apocryphal story only if you have a sense of humour. This is a spoof, pure fiction, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2.  All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
NB:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved) 

INDIAN NAVY – AN OCEAN OF OPPORTUNITIES

A few days ago I was relaxing in bed listening to soothing old Hindi film songs on Vividh Bharati and slowly drowsing into my afternoon siesta.

The harmonious mood was suddenly disturbed by a rather discordant advertisement in English.

Yes, my bedside radio crackled with a boisterous male voice boasting about his glorious life in the Navy bragging slogans like “I challenge my fellow officers to a round of golf” … “I move around the world…I move up in life” etc and ending with the words: “I am a Naval Officer – I have an ocean of opportunities”.

I was flabbergasted.

Has the Navy become so desperate that they are advertising for officers on Vividh Bharati?

Vividh Bharati is mostly heard by “oldie-goldie” senior citizens who like golden oldies.

So I wonder whether senior citizens are the right “target audience” for Navy Recruitment Advertisements (unless, of course, the navy has decided to substantially relax the upper age limit to motivate oldie-goldies to join the navy with a view to mitigate the shortfall of officers!)

In the evening I saw the video version of the same Navy Recruitment Advertisement (as an TV Commercial) plugging in a lot of hype about life in the Navy, like showing officers living it up at work and play, playing polo, golf et al.

It looks like the Navy has launched an Advertisement Blitzkrieg to attract officers to join up.  


CHANGING MILITARY VALUES

How times have changed!

When we were students the recruitment advertisement had a rather prosaic yet effective slogan which appealed to your patriotic sentiment:

JOIN THE NAVY AND SERVE THE NATION

This simple slogan made it very clear what type of officers and soldiers the navy was looking for.

The navy wanted to attract youth inspired with a sense of patriotism – young men who wanted to dedicate their lives in the service of the nation.

It appears that the youth are not inspired by archaic concepts like patriotism anymore, so the Navy feels that the time-tested slogan “Join the Navy and Serve the Nation” will not work in today’s environment.

That is why the Navy has decided to appeal to “material values” and focus on pay, perks, facilities, status etc rather than on job content and intrinsic values like patriotism and sacrifice.

Extrinsic Values can be encapsulated in the three Materialistic Desires:

1. POWER

2. WEALTH

3. FAME

Accordingly, the new-age military recruitment slogans are coined to titillate the Materialistic Desire Triad of POWER, WEALTH and FAME


CIVILIAN SUPREMACY

Let us be candid and blunt.

India is a democracy with civilian supremacy.

And those wanting to join the defence services must remember that, till such time India remains a democracy, the civilians will reign supreme.

That is why civilians will always have an edge over the man in uniform as far as pay and career prospects are concerned.

Even in the government, initiatives like Assured Career Progression (ACP) Non Functional Upgradation (NFU) and Uniform Retirement Age (60) ensure that a civil servant is better off as compared to his military counterpart.

If you look at business and industry, pay and perks may have been comparable in the “license permit quota raj” before liberalization of the economy.

But post-liberalization, compensation packages in the industry have sky-rocketed beyond comparison.

So, as far as “wealth” is concerned, the military can never expect to match civilians.

If you think that a Military Officer enjoys “Power” then that may be only within the services and even that is restricted to his unit or ship.

Politicians and Civil Servants (IAS, IPS, IRS, etc) enjoy much more power than their equivalent military counterparts.

If you have been following the happenings over the past few years, you will realize that even at higher echelons, “civilian supremacy” over the military is clearly evident.

Yes, there was a time when Military Officers enjoyed “Fame”.

Today, it is Business Tycoons, Industry Entrepreneurs, Celebrities, Sportsmen, and, of course, Politicians, who hog all the fame.

Thus, it is clear that a career in the military, especially the navy, is not about “power” “wealth” and “fame”.


BRAND IMAGE OF THE MILITARY (ARMY NAVY AIR FORCE)

Recruitment advertisements are designed depending on what type of person the military wants to attract to recruit as an officer or a soldier.

Do you want individuals hankering for “power” “wealth” and “fame” to join the Navy?

Those designing recruitment advertisements must take care that the advertisements do not conjure up a hyped up “brand image” of the Armed Forces.

Such hard-sell slogans and over-hyped marketing rhetoric may create unrealistic expectations in the minds of prospective candidates.

Once the join the armed forces, they will experience the ground reality that the tough disciplined life in the military is no bed of roses and, in actual fact, the Spartan Military Life is quite different from the rosy luxurious lifestyle projected in the recruitment advertisements.

All the “hype” about the defence services built up in their minds will come crashing down.

They will realize that most of the unrealistic expectations they had built in their minds are not practicable to fulfill.

All this will create frustration and disillusionment in young officers who will feel that they have been conned.

This disenchantment is quite evident if you talk to officers, especially junior officers.

Another indicator of this frustration is the increasing number of officers who want to quit the services.

(One thing that most military recruitment advertisements don’t tell you is that once you sign up and join, it is very difficult to leave, unlike civilian jobs where you can quit whenever you want to)


DOES THE MILITARY NEED TO ADVERTISE TO GET SUITABLE OFFICERS?

Before the advent of the Electronic Media and Internet, the defence services used to have print advertisements in newspapers which were informative in nature.

The aim of these advertisements was to give information regarding how to join the armed forces.

In contrast, today’s recruitment advertisements try to blatantly “market” the armed forces with the aim of luring and enticing “consumers” to the “product” by a hard-sell promotion and hype to create a “brand image”.

Why create unrealistic expectations, which, when not fulfilled, can lead to disillusionment?

Another thing the recruitment advertisements don’t tell you is that when you join the military, you lose a number of freedoms and fundamental rights that you take for granted in civilian life.

If you have the right attitude and aptitude, the navy (army or air force) is a good career, but you must make sure that you understand the pros and cons and are aware of the full picture before you take the plunge.

The best advertisements for any organization are its employees.

That is why the advice I give to aspirants who want to join the Armed Forces is this:

Don’t get carried away by recruitment advertisements.

Don’t blindly listen to anyone.

Just go down to the nearest military unit and talk to young serving officers.

They will give you a true picture of the life and career prospects in that service, the army, navy or air force, as the case may be.

A career in the military is like lifetime employment.

Suppose you don’t like it then you have no choice but to lump it, since you cannot dump it, as job-hopping is not possible.

Therefore, you must do your due diligence before you sign up.


HOW TO WRITE CREATIVE COPY AND COIN MILITARY RECRUITMENT SLOGANS AND CATCHPHRASES 

Let me end on a lighter note.

The first recruitment slogan I remember was:

JOIN THE NAVY AND SERVE THE NATION

(This was a 100% genuine slogan since all Indian Navy Officers are required to serve the nation)

Then we had a recruitment slogan:

JOIN THE NAVY AND SEE THE WORLD

(This is certainly true for the Merchant Navy but I am not sure how many Indian Navy Officers “see the world”)

Now we have the slogan:

INDIAN NAVY – AN OCEAN OF OPPORTUNITIES

(The “ocean” – yes, it is very much there, and your ship will always be sailing on the ocean. About “opportunities” – well, you better ask a young serving Naval Officer)

I think the Army once had a recruitment slogan: “DO YOU HAVE IT IN YOU?”

The Air Force has its unique recruitment slogans too.

I am sure you have come across many such military recruitment slogans.

But, in my opinion, the most hilarious military recruitment slogan ever coined is the recent army recruitment catchphrase:

IF YOU WANT TO HAVE BEAUTIFUL AND SUCCESSFUL DAUGHTERS, JOIN INDIAN ARMY

I chanced upon this gem of wit on twitter.

It was a photograph of a hoarding apparently carrying an army recruitment advertisement.

The advertisement had pictures of Bollywood Actors and Celebrities, who are daughters of army officers, with a caption that reads: “If you want to have beautiful and successful daughters, join Indian Army”.

Here is a snapshot of the bizarre recruitment advertisement:


  
Picture is taken from the article “Want to have beautiful and successful daughter, join Indian Army” in India Today Online dated 18 April 2013 at url:


Had a nice hearty laugh, didn’t you?

Well, I really don’t know much about other things, but one thing is sure – if you want to join the military, you must have a vibrant sense of humour.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
NB
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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