my life’s worth at least the a-side of “sergeant pepper”

Apparently you can go online and get three free iTunes downloads when you provide your contact information to an Army recruiter.

I’d have no problem if my daughter, as an adult, decided for herself to serve in the military. (Lots of people in our family have.) I would, however, have a problem if she just started the ball rolling because she wanted two dollars and ninety-seven cents worth of trash from the likes of Kid Rock or Britney Spears for free. (Given the choice, I’d prefer that she just illegally download them like everyone else.) This promotion isn’t a little “thank you” for people who are already considering military service. This is about getting the kids who never would have approached a recruiting table, or walked into a recruiting office. This is about building a database of prospects that can be tracked, harassed and intimidated into duty in Iraq.

This, to me, is much worse than their offering to help pay for someone’s college tuition. If someone chooses to go into the military for that reason, more likely than not, they know what they’re getting into, and they’ve weighed their options. In this case, however, I don’t think that’s what’s going on. This isn’t about putting all the facts in front of someone and having them make a mature decision. This is just prospect marketing, pure and simple. This is about putting kids in the position to make what’s essentially an “impulse buy.” This is dangling candy.

And, as if that weren’t enough, their’s also a banner on the iTunes promotion page that reads, “Get up to a $10,000 Enlistment Bonus if You Qualify”… Yup, they’ve made joining the military into a scratch-off lottery game. (They don’t, by the way, spell out what it is that will qualify you for the $10,000… After all, that might discourage some kids.)

I’d be curious to find out from Apple what the most popular downloads are in this promotion. I wonder what kinds of songs kids are willing to trade their privacy (and perhaps their lives) for.

I’m not pissed at the folks at Apple for doing this, by the way. I don’t think it’s like when IBM, for instance, worked with the Nazis to build a computer system to track the Jews as they made their ways to death camps. I just think that people need to be made aware of it. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I should point out that I, a Mac user for the last fifteen years, own a half-dozen shares of Apple stock, and might stand to make a few pennies if this promotion goes well.)

I’m tempted to walk though the sign-up process and see if I can get the free songs, but I’m guessing that you can’t just fill in nonsense. It’s probably contingent on them reaching you or something.

Maybe I’ll just register using my neighbor’s contact information. (I think the military might be good for him.)

So, now I’m wondering what might be next…. Will there ever be trucks rolling though neighborhoods offering free ice cream to kids that are willing to hand over their Social Security numbers (or, National ID numbers, if Social Security is gone by then)?

All of this might be a bit redundant anyway, as there’s a provision within the President’s “No Child Left Behind Act” that requires all schools taking federal money through the program to, in return, provide the names and addresses of their students (16 years old and older) to military recruiters. (To find out how your kids might be able to “opt out” of this mandatory reporting to the military, see Leave My Child Alone dotorg.)

(Tonight’s post was brought to you by the brilliant retelling of Stanley Kubrick’s film “The Shining,” coming to theaters this holiday season.)

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12 Comments

  1. chris
    Posted October 2, 2005 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t they return to the recruiting tactics of the 70’s and 80’s? Where a criminal judge offers them a sentence or a life affirming opportunity of enlistment (essentially a sentence w/ access to government approved prostitutes).

    Oh yeah, I forgot. White men don’t have to go to jail anymore.

    OK, I know that’s extreme but you all know me pretty well by now.

  2. chris
    Posted October 2, 2005 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    What is this a still from Mark? As the guy w/ the nose, top hat, and greasy locks had been locked safely into my subconscious. Thanks for letting him out.

  3. Posted October 3, 2005 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    That’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And that’s Benny Hill with the child snatcher and Truly Scrumptious always seemed like such a tip of the hat to the A. Broccoli Bond girl names.
    The Fleming original CCBB is so very different, but there’s room in my heart for both.
    I admit it, I’m a sucker for that era’s children’s musicals.
    Mary Poppins, Dr Dolittle, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory etc. etc.
    It’s the Anthony Newley and Robert and Allen Sherman (and others) composition styles that gets me.

  4. Tony Buttons
    Posted October 3, 2005 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I would gladly give every cent I have if I could arrange for an attractive, female verson of the Child-catcher to chase me though a Bavarian city.

  5. chris
    Posted October 3, 2005 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Yup, thats it alright. Now the question is, is he coming for me, OR my kids, now?

  6. PiR^round
    Posted October 3, 2005 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    You mean you never mailed in those magazine insert cards for the free Army tube socks? Or perhaps some cool Navy wrist sweatbands? An authentic Marines ensignia patch? We were just as cheaply bought in the 70’s.

  7. G(rant)
    Posted October 3, 2005 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I hear what you’re saying, and agree with it, to a point. The military needs to maintain staffing levels just like any other employer, and paying for college is an effective way to attract quality reruits (this is, in fact, how I paid my own way through college). It’s easy to forget that the purpose of our military is to protect our nation fron enemies bent on its destruction, both foriegn and domestic (sort of ironic that W is the commader in chief), and with nothing but the meager pay the military offers as compensation, The quality of recruits the military would be able to attract would give you goosebumps.

  8. Posted October 3, 2005 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Shit, why don’t they just work on the kids before they can talk? Oh wait ..

  9. john galt
    Posted October 3, 2005 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    O.J. would be great in combat.. he’s already proved he’s a master with a bayonet (well detatched I guess)

  10. john galt
    Posted October 3, 2005 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    The major networks need to have a reality combat show. A working title is “last man standing”. Only problem is it’ll be hard to have the contestants who didn’t make it on the morning news circuit after they are “eliminated”

  11. mark
    Posted October 3, 2005 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    I’d love to see a list of the various reality TV projects that have been pitched to OJ over the past five years. If someone can get me that, I’ll make it worth your while.

  12. Tony Buttons
    Posted October 7, 2005 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    And, according to the new compensation structure, you get 100 full album downloads if you sign up and lose an apendage during your first tour of duty.

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