U.S. army pulls ads with Jonathan Majors following actor's arrest

The arrest of actor Jonathan Majors has upended the Army's newly launched advertising campaign aimed at reviving the service's struggling recruiting numbers.

Majors was part of now-suspended army campaign to connect with young audiences

A man in a tuxedo looks directly at the camera. Behind is a large poster. On it, a muscular arm can be seen.
Jonathan Majors arrives at the premiere of Creed III on Feb. 27, 2023, at TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. Majors' arrest on March 25 has upended the Army’s newly launched advertising campaign, which Majors narrated and was aimed at reviving the service’s struggling recruitment numbers. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/The Associated Press)

The arrest of actor Jonathan Majors has upended the United States Army's newly launched advertising campaign that was aimed at reviving the service's struggling recruiting numbers.

Majors, who authorities said was arrested Saturday in New York on charges of strangulation, assault and harassment, was the narrator of two ads at the heart of a broader media campaign that kicked off at the start of the NCAA's March Madness college basketball tournament.

Army leaders were hopeful that the popularity of the star of the recently released Creed III and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania would help them reach the youth audience.

In a statement Sunday, the Army's Enterprise Marketing Office said that the Army was aware of Majors' arrest and was "deeply concerned by the allegations." It added that while Majors "is innocent until proven guilty, prudence dictates that we pull our ads until the investigation into these allegations is complete."

Jonathan Majors as Kang The Conqueror in Marvel Studios' ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. Photo by Jay Maidment. © 2022 MARVEL.
Jonathan Majors appears as Kang the Conqueror in Marvel Studios' Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. (Jay Maidment)

New York City police said the actor was involved in a domestic dispute with a 30-year-old woman. "The victim informed police she was assaulted," a police spokesperson said in a statement.

A lawyer for Majors, Priya Chaudhry, said in a statement Sunday there was evidence clearing Majors and that the actor "is provably the victim of an altercation with a woman he knows."

The Army ads, titled "Overcoming Obstacles" and "Pushing Tomorrow," are part of the plan to revive the Army's "Be All You Can Be" motto. They highlighted the history of the Army and some of the many professions that recruits can pursue.

The "Be All You Can Be" slogan dominated its recruiting ads for two decades starting in 1981.

Army recruitment falls

A nearly two-minute preview video featuring Majors, made available before the campaign rollout in early March, featured soldiers jumping out of airplanes, working on helicopters, climbing obstacle courses and diving underwater. A voiceover said: "We bring out the best in the people who serve, because America calls for nothing less."

In 2022, the Army's worst recruiting year in recent history, the service fell 25 per cent short of its goal to enlist 60,000 recruits. The new ads were a key element in the Army's drive to find creative new ways to attract recruits and ensure that the service has the troops it needs to operate.

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said the Army has set a difficult goal for this year: aiming to bring in 65,000 recruits, which would be 20,000 more than in 2022.