While it cannot be said that war was made for TV, it sure looks great on it – At least the parts the Pentagon allows us to see. And it’s always on TV. So it got me to thinking about the enormous potential that exists for generating advertising revenue from our wars. I’m not talking about television commercials, but actually turning the various elements of the war machine into a revenue machine.
These wars, (is it five now? I’m losing count) are driving us $750 million dollars a day further into debt. It is time for a serious dose of the type of inspiration and American ingenuity that took this empire to the top. At first, my plan may seem a bit shocking. What I’m proposing is unconventional, but as you will see, it is uniquely American. Time is of the essence and we have no other choice. So, let’s begin…
Corporations pay big money for naming rights to athletic stadiums and arenas, so why not open up the biding for the rights to military divisions and fleets? The new Meadowlands stadium owners are asking close to a billion dollars to get your name on their new stadium. Here in Miami, the once respectable Joe Roby stadium has been whored out in a revolving door of revolting names so frequently changed, that I don’t know anymore which is valid: Pro Player Park? Sunlife Stadium? Landshark Stadium? The place where that crappy team plays? Corporations are beating down the door to have their brands associated with crappy franchises like the Jets and Dolphins, so you know they’ll pay even larger sticker prices to get them associated with real winners. I say rename our aircraft carriers!
“This is Wolf Blitzer reporting from the deck of the USS Budweiser, flag ship of the 1st fleet, and home of Bud-bowl 15. If you look off to the port side, you can see her sister ships, the unmistakable black and white markings of the USS Jack Daniels and just to her right, the USS Wild Turkey. In just moments, they’re set to launch Operation One Bourbon, One Shot, and One Beer against a reported insurgent stronghold.”
There’s really no need to paint our fighting vessels gray anymore, is there? The People huddled in caves and basements that we’re bombing never get within a thousand miles of our ships, so what’s to hide? The USS Reagan would look spectacular in red and white, with a gigantic Budweiser logo across the flight deck. At Christmas time, they could even repaint the deck to a nostalgic scene of the famous clydesdales pulling a wagon full of beer through a snowstorm. We have 13 aircraft carriers. If we sell the naming rights to each vessel for 2 billion, that’s enough money to cover 100 days of fighting. Not a bad start, but we’ve still got work to do!
Another obvious place for selling advertising space is our slick military aircraft. One hundred years ago during WWI, the Red Baron’s famous scarlet tri-plane was painted in flashy colors, but then somebody figured out that you were less likely to get killed if you didn’t paint your vehicle to look like a giant target, so camouflage was created. Nowadays, technology has put an end to visual combat in the skies because pilots simply fire missiles at each other from dozens of miles away. More over, we seem to be picking fights with enemies that don’t EVEN have combat aircraft, so is there any reason to continue painting airplanes to look like the sky?
The time has arrived to bring back bright, attractive paint schemes and turn our fighters and bombers into flying billboards. It costs on average, $10 million dollars per year to get your company’s logo painted on a racecar, and there are significantly more aircraft in our military than NASCAR has racers.
With aircraft, there can be various sponsorship packages available to fit a wide range of corporate budgets: From buying the naming rights to an entire air wing, like The Chevrolet 8th Airforce for example, to slightly less expensive options, like sponsoring smaller units, such as The Sharper Image 509th Bomber Wing, (Stealth bombers have a sharp image, do they not?). There are also great opportunities available for start-ups, mom and pop businesses, and non-profits to get in on this exposure bonanza….
“This is Christiane Amanpour reporting from a ditch, where not 30 meters from my current location, a funeral procession was just strafed by an F-16 bearing the markings of Ed Davinport’s Pre-owned Lexus Emporium of Milwaukee – Home of the Wisconsin Handshake Deal.”
Of course, the same type of advertising packages could apply to the Army and Marine Corps as well. Tanks, trucks, transports, Hummers, APC’s, drones, and helicopters are natural billboards. I’m no Madison Avenue wizard, but even I can conjure up these wonderful pairings of fine consumer products with some of America’s finest, along with some clever new slogans…..
Home Depot 1st Armored Division (The Big Red Orange 1)
Keebler Chips Ahoy 3rd Infantry Division
Liquid Plumber 343rd Rear Tactical Operations Center
Bass Pro Shops 127th Air Wing (They fly A-10 Warthogs.)
Marlboro 2nd Cavalry.
Enzyt 4th Engineering Battalion. (Erecting bridges is our job!)
Nike 5th Recon Battalion. (Just find it!)
Crate and Barrel 25th Artillery Regiment. (Putting the Barrel in C&R)
In Europe, athletic teams sell advertising space on their uniforms to help offset the cost of payroll. FC Barcelona is a globally recognized soccer team. This season, they are selling the space on the front of their soccer jerseys for $40 million. Manchester United has an extremely lucrative $478 million dollar deal with Nike. Surely, the 101st Airborne, an established and well respected military division with a long history of winning equal to ManU and Barca, can ask that kind of money for the rights to have a corporate logo on the front chests of their combat fatigues.
I know what you’re thinking: “Hold on a second – We can’t have our front line infantry running around in the mountains of resource rich countries with brightly colored Mountain Dew logos on their chests and helmets! You’ll get those kids killed!”
I understand your concerns. That’s why I’m advocating logos that are toned down to blend in with the camo. All logos must be drab shades of tan and green. Think monochromatic Dale Earnhardt Jr. with an assault rifle, handing out free soda samples to the survivors of a just bombed out village, and you get the picture. Motivated enough to sell every square inch of ad space on our soldiers’ uniforms, the end result will be a dizzying collage of black and green patches packed together so tightly, it will function as camouflage of the highest quality.
By now, you must be thinking, “Wow! That should be enough revenue to cover the costs of these wars; America can keep freedom on the march forever!” True, but I don’t just want to break even – I want America to turn a profit. That’s why I’m also advocating America taking the next logical step: Product placement.
During the first Gulf War, soldiers were frequently seen on TV drinking Evian water, and the bottled water craze soon swept through America. It was a brilliant move by the French company, and far ahead of its time. If Hollywood can ask upwards of $50 million to have some overrated clown like Matt Damon hold up a bottle of soda in a movie, can’t The Army do the same with a real life private named Ryan?
There’s potential far beyond drinks and chips: Lip Balm, Sunglasses, Comic books, Best of Hank Williams CD sets, Energy Drinks, Insect Repellent, Cell Phones, Laptops, Watches, Tattoo Parlors, Collectable plates from the Franklin Mint, Razors, Guns, Condoms, Earrings, Gold teeth grill manufacturers, Toothpaste, Greeting Cards, Spaghetti-O’s, Suntan lotion, and Oprah’s book club.
Of course, it would be silly and quite foolhardy for me to advocate our brave soldiers attempting to hold up a consumer product such as a can of refreshing Dr. Pepper with its label facing the cameras, while kicking in the front door of a goat salesman. Such product placement should only be allowed during rests, back at the base, while conducting interviews, and at water boarding photo-ops.
Product placement doesn’t have to be restricted to our soldiers. Look at the fantastic opportunity that was just lost when the Navy Seal team killed Osama Bin Laden: If somebody at the Pentagon had been thinking, they could have sold the crime scene as a chance to get global exposure on an unprecedented scale. Instead, what did we get? Just a photo of a shabby room devoid of any corporate logos.
If it had been me running these wars, I would have called Vivid Video, Frito-Lay, Coke, Oakley, Johnson & Johnson, Chrysler, Island Records and Disney, then presented them with a once in a life-time opportunity to have their products strategically placed in an upcoming top-secret mission that would have given them worldwide exposure greater than the Olympics and World Cup combined.
Then after the checks cleared, and the double-tap finished tapping, I would have instructed the assault team to commence with Operation Cha-Ching, by placing a stack of pornos and Justin Bieber CD’s next to Osama’s computer with the labels facing up. Next, the assault team would have been told by the interior decorator I embedded with the unit to place a large bag of Doritos corn chips and a six pack of Diet Cokes (Bin Laden was diabetic) on the nearby table along with a pair of Oakley sunglasses and a box of Tylenol PM, then finish off the job by tacking to the wall two posters: One of a Dodge Ram truck, and another of The Magic Kingdom.
Only after the room had been carefully checked over by the Navy Seal interior decorator, would the embedded photographer, (hand picked from the pages of Architectural Digest), been allowed to photograph the scene. OBL’s bedroom layout would have been on every news broadcast all over the world for weeks! Consumers would have been buying up Jenna Jamison DVD’s and Artisan corn chips like they were going out of style, from Kandahar to Cleveland.
Just as important, the ad revenue from Operation Cha-Ching would not only have paid for the mission and the replacement cost of the top secret helicopter they wrecked: it would also have covered the cost of that classy funeral we gave The O-train at sea, with a sweet tip for both the chaplain and florist, and a cool 2 billion left over to take care of Mrs. Clintons Flu.
Next Week: The Final Solution (to our boredom)