NEW YORK – For 20 years, "Be all that you can be" was the catch phrase of the U.S. Army.
Widely regarded as one of the best campaigns in advertising history, it was ranked the No. 2 jingle of the last century by Ad Age magazine.
But in January "Be all that you can be" became a thing of the past, and the new $150 million campaign "An army of one" was unveiled.
"I am an army of one," the ads say. "Even though there are 1,045,690 soldiers just like me, I am my own force. I am an army of one … and you can see my strength."
It's supposed to reach America's youth, stressing the individual's importance to the service. But critics say it's inconsistent with the military principle of teamwork.
"I would kind of classify it as false advertisement," said Lt. Col. Ralph Zimmerman, president of Soldiers for the Truth.
There is some evidence the campaign might not be working. From March through May, the Army reportedly fell short of its recruiting goals by nearly 4,000 people.
"In my opinion, we probably ought to do away with it and replace it with something that's realistic and that young people believe in," Zimmerman said.
Yet the Army claims the spots are effective and said recruiting targets were met – but were lowered for the time period in question because more soldiers were re-enlisting. They also said hits on their Web site are up by more than 100 percent.
"If you ask me how 'An army of one' is doing, I gotta' tell you, it's going fine," said Maj. Gen. Dennis Cavin, commander of U.S. Army recruiting. "We believe we got it right on the mark, we understand what today's youth are interested in and we're appealing to that."
The Army says any new campaign takes at least 90 days to get rolling – and that this year's recruitment goals will be met. Critics say their only hope is that 'An army of one' doesn't attract an army of none.