US Army using fake alien war advertisements as recruiting tool

The US Army is currently running an ad campaign that is out of this world, working in conjunction with the makers of Independence Day II.

Utilizing the premise of a global defense force poised to take on alien threats in response to the events in the first Independence Day film, the fictional Earth Space Defense force touts itself as the defenders of humanity.

With TV spots that mimic modern-day recruiting ads, the ESD commercials are complete with Starship Troopers-esque “would you like to know more?” links that take you to none other than the US Army’s home page at where users can play different games to unlock film content and learn about current Army career options.

ESD goarmy game
Screenshot of one of the four “training mission” games at

According to NPR, the McCann Worldgroup -one of a few advertising firms who contract with the US Army to produce ads- was approached by 21st Century Fox to produce the ads.

“[The ads] allow us to tell the Army recruitment story in a very new and very relevant way”, said McCann Worldgroup executive Lisa Nocella.

Since the Second World War, Hollywood has often collaborated with the US Military for recruiting tie-ins. From Top Gun to Transformers and Iron Man, the military is often eager to work with filmmakers to put the military in a good light while simultaneously surging recruiting numbers.

“[It’s] Appealing to patriotism, it’s appealing to service, it’s a higher calling,” said William Strickland, a 30-year USAF veteran who ran the recruitment research division and is now working as a civilian with the US Army. “Those connections are still there whether it’s that made-up thing or if it’s real. I mean, the U.S. Army is at war and has been now for pretty much going on 17, 18 years.”

Strickland says that the Army’s ad communicates to a new generation of possible recruits, with emphasis on technology and science.  The mini-games at, which forwards to, direct users to more information about four Army careers: Microbiologist (71A), Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator (15W),  Avionic Mechanic (15N), and Cryptologic Network Warfare Specialist (35Q).

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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