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US Air Force promotes women pilots as superheroes in recruitment campaign

As a fighter plane zooms through the sky, a woman’s voice says: “Every superhero has an origin story.” That’s the inspiring, high-flying start of the US Air Force’s latest recruitment campaign, one that aims high to get more women into its ranks.

Leveraging International Women’s Day (8 March) and the upcoming Captain Marvel superhero film featuring a female pilot as the titular heroine that releases on the same day, the US Air Force is airing the new film and campaign in partnership with GSD&M, the military branch’s 18-year agency of record.

‘Origin Story’ showcases the inspiring and powerful female pilots that make up the US Air Force. It proudly emphasizes the “women power” that exists within the Air Force by saying it can turn anyone into a hero – just like the empowering theme of the upcoming Marvel movie.

The voiceover in the spot states: “We all got our start somewhere, for us it was the US Air Force.” It wraps up with a caption asking “What will your origin story be?” and ends with the familiar tagline “Aim High.”

Captain Marvel, in turn, showcases the origins of a heroine who was the first female fighter pilot in the Air Force, progressing from a United States Air Force cadet to outstanding fighter pilot to superhero.

The real-life first female fighter pilot in the Air Force was brigadier general Jeannie Leavitt, who currently serves as commander of Air Force recruiting service. She helped to spearhead the 30-second spot after seeing the opportunity to inspire more female recruits. The US Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy are all currently experiencing a 25% shortage of pilots, according to a release.

Leavitt brought together a group of 80-plus female pilots, from generals down through almost every rank – second lieutenants and first assignment instructor pilots, fresh out of the pilot training pipeline. All the pilots were filmed in a single day and their stories told on a dedicated webpage.

‘Origin Story’ will appear across national, youth-focused TV channels, including during NBA games for the first two weeks of March. In addition to the TV spot, the campaign will run in theaters and on digital and social media platforms that will feature multiple digital elements.

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