We just posted a short rough cut of a piece we shot at the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia that we would love you to check out.
In 2008, the Army shut down five recruiting centers in the Philadelphia area and replaced them with a multimillion dollar facility where kids as young as 13 can play military-themed video games for free and fire at digital enemies from inside a simulated humvee and Apache helicopter. Army recruiters circle around, ready to chat, answer questions, and sometimes even play Xbox with the kids.
It's all part of a new experiential marketing strategy inspired, in part, by the Apple Store. The idea is to give people a "sampling experience" of the Army, just as the Apple Store gives people a sampling experience of what Apple is all about.
The AEC has been targeted by protesters who accuse the Army of deceiving kids into thinking war is fun, and chant slogans like "war is not a game" and "there is no reset button in war."
But the irony is that increasingly wars are being fought by remote control, with UAVs flying over the mountains of Afghanistan, operated by 25-year-olds based thousands of miles away in the desert outside of Las Vegas. We just came back from a shoot at the Creech Air Force Base, where we interviewed pilots who spend their afternoons tracking and sometimes killing insurgents and are home in time for dinner. (Read Caitlin's blog about it here.)
You won't get all this from the four minute clip here, but you will get a taste of the AEC and some of the controversy around it. Watch the Digital Nation documentary in February to see more!