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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

First federally-built cars roll out

No, we're talking about "Government Motors" or the Chrysler takeover for the UAW. The Air Force has customized a pair of muscle cars to be used as high-tech recruiting tools.

My first instinct is to label this a massive boondoogle unrelated the Air Force's mission. But I'm not so sure.

When I worked in the Senate, we got a few letters from constituents upset that the Army was spending tax dollars to sponsor race cars. The Coast Guard and the National Guard have also used race sponsorships as recruiting tools. It pays to advertise, and if these sorts of promotions raise awareness and the service's image with potential recruits, they might be worth the money. "Be All You Can Be" was one of the most successful ad campaigns ever, and that used tax dollars to promote the Army.

The Air Force Supercar program is less direct than those TV and radio ads, but many advertisers are moving towards viral, indirect, and seemingly bizarre campaigns as viewers eyeballs shift from the TV screen to the monitor.

So I don't know if the Air Force should be buidling high-tech muscle cars. I do think it requires some hands-on investigation, perhaps at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

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