Air Force Ad Campaign Will Leverage Space Force Buzz to Drive Recruitment

Members of the Air Force Delayed Entry Program take the Oath of Enlistment during the Junior ROTC day at Scott AFB, Ill., Nov. 2, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Hudson)
Members of the Air Force Delayed Entry Program take the Oath of Enlistment during the Junior ROTC day at Scott AFB, Ill., Nov. 2, 2018. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Hudson)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland -- When Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, head of the Air Force's recruiting service, interacts with the public, the topic of a yet-to-be-created Space Force comes up frequently.

"I get asked, 'Well, my grandson wants to join the Space Force. Where does he go?'" Leavitt told reporters at the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Symposium in National Harbor, Maryland, this week. "And I say, 'Well, join the Air Force.' Because whatever it looks like, Space Force, Space Corps, whatever, it's going to come from the Air Force. And so that's always the guidance I give when it comes to space."

With a proposal before Congress to create a Space Force that falls under the Air Force in the same way the Marine Corps falls under the Navy, the Air Force is already crafting a marketing campaign that leverages space to boost recruiting.

"We see space and everything that's happening in space as a great opportunity to inspire this young generation," Leavitt said. "It's new, and it's exciting, and it's this next frontier."

Related: Read all about the Air, Space and Cyber Conference

She noted that the Air Force, like the other services, faces challenges when it comes to finding and attracting qualified candidates. Less than a quarter of American youth meet basic qualifications to serve, she said, and recruiters must deal with a "knowledge gap" -- only about half of recruitable youth can name the four military services, and most don't know anyone in the military.

Earlier this year, Leavitt said, Air Force recruiting officials visited Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, to discuss how best to use the buzz around Space Force to drive recruiting.

An advertising campaign now under development will attempt to reach the young recruitable population via social media and ads on video streaming services, such as Netflix. The campaign, Leavitt said, is expected to include 30-second and 15-second video ads, although the specific messages have yet to be developed.

"I think once we develop the commercials, that's when we'll look at that type of messaging specifically," she said. "What we want to do is have the individual picture themselves helping forge that new frontier. Picturing themselves doing this, and exploring space and building this new Space Force."

The Pentagon and White House recently held a ceremony to activate U.S. Space Command, a new U.S. combatant command led by Air Force Gen. John "Jay" Raymond. Space Command is intended to precede the creation of U.S. Space Force, a sixth branch of the U.S. military.

President Donald Trump directed the creation of the new service in June 2018, although the proposal must still receive congressional approval.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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