By Diane Farsetta on November 12, 2008

For years, military recruiters have focused on adult "influencers" -- parents, teachers and coaches who could encourage or discourage a young person from joining the military. Now, the U.S. Army is seeking to make its recruiting "campaign more relevant to the desired audience of Americans ages 17 to 24." The new phase of the "Army strong" campaign puts "more emphasis on the Internet, event marketing and other methods that connect with young Americans on a closer, more personal level." It includes a revamped Army website, with "Straight from Iraq," a webcast series where visitors can "find out what it's really like to be deployed in the Middle East from the men and women stationed there." It's "the first time the Iraq war has been referred to so directly and prominently" on the Army's website. Nine Interpublic Group firms work on the "Army strong" campaign, including Casanova Pendrill, for ads targeting Hispanics; IW Group, for ads targeting Asian-Americans; Carol H. Williams Advertising, for ads targeting African-Americans; and Weber Shandwick, for public relations. The Army's also changing its "Virtual Army Experience" traveling exhibit, after criticism that its videogame contains violent imagery not suitable for the music festivals and county fairs where it's presented. "The new content will concentrate on the peaceful purposes the Army can serve ... like providing humanitarian aid."