US Army Goes Back to 1980s, and Hollywood, to Lure Generation Z

  • Echo of ‘Be all that you can be’ advertising campaign
  • Actor Jonathan Majors narrating pitches to young recruits

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The US Army—the largest military service that’s been struggling to recruit a new generation of soldiers—is going back to the future to boost its attraction to Generation Z.

The Army is returning to its 1980s slogan of “Be all you can be” to reflect the “endless possibilities” that the service can offer, Maj. Gen. Alex Fink, the Army’s marketing director, said at an event at the National Press Club in Washington.

The rebranding, more than just recruiting, is about “reintroducing America to the Army,” Fink said.

Read More: US Military Faces Biggest Recruiting Hurdles in 50 Years

The new campaign kicks off as the Army is trying to recover from one of its worst recruiting years in recent memory. The Army last year fell 25,000 short of its 60,000 goal for new soldiers. For 2023, it wants to attract 65,000 new recruits, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said at the same event. So far, the Army is in a better spot than it was at the same time last year, she said without offering any details.

Photographer: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
Jonathan Majors, seen here at a Hollywood Walk Of Fame Star Ceremony, is leading ads for the US Army.

The slogan, which stands “the test of time,” is meant to get to the sense of community and purpose of Generation Z, as well as the interest in new technology and innovation, Wormuth said. The service is targeting recruits roughly 17 to 25 years old.

All US military services have struggled with recruiting due to mental and physical health issues among Americans posed by the coronavirus pandemic, and now competing in a tight labor market against private companies that often offer more alluring benefits.

Pentagon data show 77% of youth 16 to 24 years old aren’t qualified for military service without waivers. Almost 44% of such youth are ineligible for service for multiple reasons, with overweight as the most prevalent cause. Ineligibility aside, Generation Z also isn’t interested in serving in the military in large part because of a misconception about what it means, Pentagon officials told Congress last year.

The Army accelerated the new $117 million campaign, which was slated for August, to benefit from recent positive momentum, Wormuth said.

The Army is also unveiling two new ads, narrated and led by actor Jonathan Majors, who’s had roles in movies such as “Devotion” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” One ad shows how the US Army has overcome obstacles over its history and the second focuses on community and innovation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roxana Tiron in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anna Yukhananov at; Robin Meszoly at

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