On May 17 the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill prohibiting military spending on sponsorship of professional sports. Specifically, the amendment co-sponsored by Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., and Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., singles out motorsports, fishing, mixed martial arts and wrestling.
The U.S. military is an all volunteer force and sports sponsorships have long been part of the marketing mix that allows recruiters from every branch to consistently hit the enlistment numbers needed to maintain that force. Despite this fact, Kingston and McCollum feel compelled to micromanage how the Pentagon spends its recruiting dollars, randomly pulling sports sponsorship from the mix.
The 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill is now headed to the Senate. If the House version of the bill with the Kingston-McCollum amendment attached passes, every branch of the U.S. military will lose a critical recruiting tool. For the National Guard, however, it will be particularly devastating since states are prohibited from purchasing television and/or radio airtime according to National Guard Regulation 601-1, 7-6, (4).
The National Guard restructured its marketing plan in 2006 to include partnerships with FLW, NASCAR, Motocross and other sports properties that provide valuable national media exposure in addition to direct access to potential recruits at hundreds of events nationwide. Since that change, National Guard strength has grown to record levels.
In fact, according to retired Army National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Clyde A. Vaughn: “2006 was a watershed year in terms of revitalizing the ARNG strength maintenance program and growth in end-strength. We obtained the required resources and provided programs that will enable the ARNG to succeed. The ARNG now has the most experienced leadership and its youngest soldiers in its 370 year history.”
The National Guard generated 26,342 leads through its FLW sponsorship in 2009, 22,709 in 2010 and 28,673 in 2011. These are a direct result of FLW’s promotion of the National Guard through social media, websites, television, print, tournaments and co-branding with other FLW partners. Additionally FLW provides the National Guard with retention and soldier recognition programs, including Soldier Appreciation Tournaments and the Wounded Hero Fishing project, that help ensure continued service by quality enlisted and officer personnel.
Let your senators and representatives know that Congress should not be micromanaging the Department of Defense, especially when it comes to recruiting, and the Kingston-McCollum amendment should be stricken from the 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill.
A similar amendment sponsored by McCollum was defeated last year. With your help, we can defeat this amendment as well and continue to allow recruiters to build rapport with potential recruits based on shared interests and common experiences instead of relying solely on traditional media buys.
Thank you for your support.