The ethical implications of the military's product placement and brand integration in popular entertainment
Master of Science
Department or Program
Mass Communication and Media Arts
The military relies heavily on advertising. National defense is itself a product that is marketed to the American taxpayer who not only funds the Pentagon but fights its battles. Recruiting is crucial to maintaining the all-volunteer force created in 1973 when the draft was abolished. While plenty of individuals readily sign up others need more encouragement. As of 2014, 1,412,674 people served on active duty in the U.S. military (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/military/military-careers.htm 2014), and while this number may appear impressive it reflects only a tiny part of the population. This paper will examine in depth how the U.S. military uses product placement and product integration in popular entertainment to recruit soldiers. The paper describes the symbiotic relationship between Hollywood and the Pentagon under which the military provides funding and military equipment for military films that encourage young people to volunteer for services and portray the military in a positive light. The paper also examines the ethical issues raised by the use of taxpayer dollars to fund favorable media representations often targeted at audiences far too young to make a rational decision about joining the military. The paper concludes by showing that the military’s propaganda efforts in Hollywood are an important part of the militarization of society that makes foreign military entanglements attractive to the American people.