The IDF Is Strong, but Not Necessarily at Advertising

New NIS 10 million campaign, which has internet users seething, is aimed at raising motivation to do combat service, which has dropped substantially in recent years.

A new promotional campaign by the Israel Defense Forces has raised hackles on the Internet. Launched on Tuesday, the online videos contain only four Hebrew words, translating as “That’s strong? The IDF is strong!”

One of the videos shows the preparation of coffee in a finjan - a traditional coffee pot. After 20 seconds, during which an old man with a mustache tastes the bitter coffee and asks “That’s strong?” a series of images show combat soldiers in operation – during a field exercise, an exercise in urban warfare, soldiers rushing a target in the snow, shots of naval divers and paratroopers and more. Then the video returns to the old man, who says “The IDF is strong.”

The second video shows a young woman playing a drum set for several seconds, then looking at the camera and asking “That’s strong?” Cut to shots from the cockpit of a fighter bomber, followed by clips of an aerial exercise, naval training, a series of tanks firing, and back to the drummer who says, “The IDF is strong.”

Response to the videos, which the IDF is promoting on its Facebook and Twitter accounts, has been less than complimentary.

“I don’t know who came up with the concept for these ads, but I hope he’s already been court-martialed,” wrote a Facebook user named Oded. Others wondered why the military has to finance such self-promotion. “But if they’re already doing it,” said another comment, “where do we call the IDF and threaten to disconnect?”

Although the IDF won’t admit it yet, so as not to ruin the viral campaign, the ads are aimed at raising motivation to do combat service. After it was noted that only 70 percent of recent recruits expressed interest in combat service, a drop of nine percentage points in less than three years, the army decided to develop a marketing campaign to encourage combat service, using radio, television and billboards. The overall campaign is due to start next year.

The marketing program was approved two months ago by Ground Forces Command commander Maj. Gen. Guy Tzur and IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz.

“A civilian marketing agency in cooperation with the IDF Spokesman will be responsible for the project, whose cost is estimated at NIS 10 million,” Col. Sammy Holzkan, who serves as human resources director for the ground forces, told the army newspaper Bamahane two weeks ago. “Even at a time when we’re counting every shekel, we were prepared to invest in this, because we understand that personnel are the heart of the army,” he said.