- By Katelyn FossettKatelyn Fossett is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy. A native of Kentucky, she has previously written for the Inter Press Service and Washington Monthly. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University.
The Israeli military, hard up for combat volunteers, has taken up an aggressive viral marketing campaign to attract new recruits for its most dangerous roles. And, if first impressions are any indication, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) may want to hire a new P.R. team. The IDF, which has cultivated a reputation as a savvy user of Twitter, Youtube, and even Pinterest, has recently become the subject of Internet mockery after launching a series of videos on Tuesday aimed at coaxing young people into combat roles.
The creators of the videos rely on a less-than-inspired slogan: "That’s strong? The IDF is strong!" One of the videos begins with an old man tasting a cup of bitter coffee (pictured above) and asking "That’s strong?" before cutting to a montage of combat scenes, rife with the kind of chest-beating imagery of typical of military ads (see any U.S. Army advertisement, ever). The video cuts back to the old man, who delivers that essential tagline: "The IDF is strong." Other videos feature a tattooed bodybuilder and a girl playing the drums ("The IDF is hardcore!").
Watch one below:
If this looks to you a touch desperate, you’re paying attention. According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the IDF ads come amid concerns over declining interest in taking on combat service in the military. While military service remains compulsory for men and women in Israel, the number of new inductees volunteering to serve in elite combat units has dropped from 79.5 percent in 2011 to 70 percent this year. In response to this trend, the IDF approved a major marketing program two months ago with a price tag of 2.8 million. In an interview two weeks ago, an IDF human resources director told the military publication Bamahane that "even at a time when we’re counting every shekel, we were prepared to invest in this."