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ROTC Cadets Featured in Army's National Ad Campaign

Published: August 14, 2007
By Robin Roger

As junior Elizabeth Larke prepared to launch herself off a 33-foot high rappelling wall, she smiled a half smile, a mixture of apprehension and exhilaration. She had done this before, but never in front of a camera.

“It was a little weird to have a camera in my face, but that’s what made it so fun,” she said of a photo shoot on The University of Tampa campus. “It basically captured all the things that a cadet will be able to do in the ROTC program.”

Larke was one of several UT cadets who participated in the photo shoot for the ROTC’s new print advertising campaign. Last spring, the Army hired celebrity photographer Chris McPherson to shoot photos of cadets at both The University of Tampa and Florida International University in Miami.

The resulting print ads will appear in national media outlets and can be used by local battalions in billboards, banner ads, brochures and newspapers. Larke and her cohorts will start cropping up in advertisements and brochures as the face of the Army’s ROTC program this fall.

“The photo shoot has great potential to boost our ROTC program, since it can potentially make our cadets local celebrities and help us in terms of recruiting in the future,” said Karen Parker, battalion executive officer for UT’s ROTC program .

“The decision to utilize The University of Tampa as the setting was a great choice, given the beauty UT’s campus represents, the success of our ROTC program and the outstanding cadets we commission as second lieutenants every year.”

The cadets displayed great enthusiasm, diversity and an array of very attractive visual qualities, she added.

Annie June of McCann Advertising said the cadets at UT were all very articulate and photogenic. Out of the 54 cadets, 40 were featured in the shoots organized by the advertising firm.

The Army chose to photograph real cadets in their own uniforms, using models for parents and classmates. UT had a number of solid performing cadets who represented a diverse cross section of the army officer corps, said Major Angela Hildebrant, chief of marketing for the U.S. Army Cadet Command. Plus, the weather made Tampa an ideal location in which to shoot.

The Army has not made any new promotional materials for its ROTC program since it jettisoned its “An Army of One” slogan last fall. Now it is revamping its advertising to reflect the new motto: “Army Strong.”

“This time we were looking for something that would not only resonate, but endure,” said Hildebrant. “There’s strong, and then there’s Army strong.”

Hildebrant said the Army is looking for solid performing cadets who represent a diverse cross section, to show just how diverse the army officer corps is.

Junior J.K. Karlsson’s black, newly polished shoes baked in the sun as he awaited his close-up in his ROTC uniform.

“This is a great honor for our battalion,” said Karlsson, who posed with flags waving behind him.