Some MRAPs have already been outfitted with sponsor advertisements.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - As the Department of Defense budget gets slimmer each day, military and civilian personnel are getting creative with how to cover shortfalls. The Pentagon has already started using candlelight to save on energy, and they are back to notepads and pens instead of computers. Now, they are trying to get some help from the business community.
"It's a real shame when we can't spend all the money we want anymore," said General Raymond Elliott, "so I figure, let's try something different."
Elliott proposed a novel idea to the Joint Chiefs and the President: Corporate sponsorship.
In a pitch to a joint conference of Pentagon officials and business leaders, Elliott laid out what he said was a "synergistic relationship."
"Our troops use your products everyday, so why not use product placement and a little bit of advertising on the battlefield," said Elliott.
Elliott says that many companies can benefit from sponsoring American soldiers. Chewing tobacco from U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, makers of Copenhagen, for example, is very popular with the troops. So why not put a Cope logo on every service cap?
"Cope can provide a free can a week to each military member, plus some money, and in exchange, we'll place your logo over the rank insignia. It's really a win-win."
There were also a few contract stipulations that Copenhagen required to sign on. One provision requires troops to use product placement in the field. If approached by Afghans who are dipping their popular hashish-laced chew, troops are required to display a Copenhagen can, mention "It's the fresher choice", and give them a free sample.
"It's a global economy, and we're competing with hash. We understand it, and we're trying to win this fight," said Gene Alwer of U.S. Smokeless Tobacco.
Anheuser-Busch, brewers of Budweiser, have also jumped on board.
"We've actually analyzed our sales figures, and the U.S. military makes up over 70% of our revenue," says Bill Nelson, Operations Manager of Anheuser-Busch, "Apparently they drink quite a bit. They really make us proud. We already have plans in place to put Budweiser logos on tactical vehicles in all theatres of operation. Anheuser-Busch will pay the manufacturing cost for each vehicle that is branded with our logos. It’s the logical choice for the Armed Forces.”
Other companies have expressed interest but have yet to close the deal. They include the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Military Times, and The Military Channel.
"I don't care if the troops are covered like a goddamn Nascar," says General Elliott with a smile, "we're going to get these budget problems fixed."