Ductus Exemplo: Leading by Example (Part 3)


The Most Diverse Generation

Last week, we tackled performance-driven leadership, and now we’re going to show you how the United States Marines Corps continuously stays relevant to one key audience – Millennials (50 million strong and a generation more diverse than ever before). Raised with computers in-hand and deeply engrossed in social media, 17 to 29-year-olds have been the U.S. Marines recruitment demographic since their inception. The Marines’ ability to adapt in an increasingly complex recruiting marketplace is not a miracle – it’s strategy. Attracting talented recruits with a message that is still aligned with the Marines’ values and mission.MarineCorpsFightingWithaPurposeThough the Marines have no explicit minority recruiting targets, promoting a diverse force is a principle that the Marines believe builds strength. According to a study by Pew Research cited by PBS, “Millennials are the most diverse generation in U.S. history. Only 61 percent are white, 19 percent Hispanic, 14 percent black, and 5 percent Asian. That contrasts with those 30 and older, a group that is 70 percent white.” As with any other company out there, the shifting demographic is causing everyone to evaluate how we’re talking to the many different groups that comprise America.

In 2013, the Marine Corps Times reports that “nearly a quarter of the new officer candidates were minorities, up almost 9 percentage points from fiscal 2010.” This success can be attributed in part to ads created by JWT and its diversity marketing partner, Uniworld Group, and powered by the Marines’ culture. A tactical example, the ad titled “Fighting with a Purpose” released in 2012 features an African-American infantryman. As a recruitment piece, it showcases the purpose-based cause of the Marines – defending America. But, this message’s relevance extends beyond the traditional feature + benefit formula.


Though “defending America” is an intrinsic value that every potential candidate ultimately finds, each person’s motivation for joining the Corps is different. This is where the Marines’ ads begin to appeal to a different audience with a different life philosophy. In both “Fighting with a Purpose” and “Toward the Sounds of Chaos”, the emphasis is on the Marines’ broader range of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. Delivering aid, protecting citizens, and running peacekeeping missions is not always what people jump to when they hear Marines. Working again with JWT, the advertising team segmented their audience in a way that transcends race by developing cultural archetypes – a “Rambo vs. Bono” dichotomy, if you will. The “Bono” group – a group who might identify more with the Peace Corps than the Marine Corps – might never have previously considered service. But, studies show Millennials increasingly identify with cause-driven work. These ads are reaching a new audience in a totally different way.

Appealing to diverse audiences takes a varied approach. No person within any group thinks exactly alike, bringing our attitudes and experiences to every decision. But, speaking to each audience differently helps each of us find a common cause that will bind us to a purpose.

Next week, we’ll be taking on the topic of micromanaging – empowering employees to take control of their career. The Marines once again lead the way with their take on the importance of trust and its effect on performance.

What was the reason you joined your company? How does your company celebrate diversity? What tactics is your company employing to gain traction with different communities? Send us a message at conversations@jwtinside.com or visit us on Twitter @JWTINSIDE.


Michael Savage, the Director of Employer Brand at JWT INSIDE, is a communications strategist, storyteller and business partner. He has collaborated with executive leadership across a wide range of industries to develop employer brands that align workforces, attract talent and drive business forward. These employer brands have inspired enviable online and offline experiences – conversations, cultures and causes that employees and candidates alike want to join. Contact Michael at Michael.Savage@jwt.com.

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