Picking up on the boom in reality TV and the growth of extreme sports, the Marine Corps has released a new recruiting commercial that breaks with its earlier style.
In "The Climb," a youthful real-life marine, in a white tank and sports pants, scales a rocky cliff against an azure sky. There are no lava monsters, or spinning corkscrews as in the previous "Rite of Passage." And the setting is not a giant chessboard - as in an earlier corps ad - but Monument Valley, the desert on the border of Utah and Arizona.
As the marine climbs, his bare hands nearly slipping at one point, different images of the life of a marine flash against the face of the rock, including a picture of an African-American feeding a young girl, meant to reflect the corps's diversity. Greeting him, once he reaches the top, is a World War II-era Marine in the classic corps uniform.
Unlike many Army recruiting efforts, the ad targets high school graduates and makes no mention of job benefits or possible college degrees.
In fact, the new ad might be less Nintendo and more "Mission Impossible II," but Maj. Andrew Fortunato, director of marketing for the Recruiting Command, says the message hasn't changed since the corps's inception in 1775.
"We're not looking for everybody, we're looking for people who are looking for a challenge," he says, adding, "In all our commercials, there's always been a level of combat."
The smallest of the services, the corps has a budget that allows for a new ad only every three or four years. "The Climb" is the corps's sixth ad in a campaign that started in 1983, roughly a decade after the services became all-volunteer. It was released for television Feb. 23, the anniversary of the Marines' raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, and is expected in movie theaters in May.