Army pulls ‘Be All You Can Be’ ads after on-screen narrator arrested

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement from Majors’ defense attorney.

The Army paused its new multi-million dollar advertising campaign Sunday after its featured actor was arrested the day before, officials said.

Jonathan Majors, who stars as the on-screen narrator in the first wave of “Be All You Can Be” advertisements, faces charges of assault, strangulation and harassment, a New York Police Department official told Army Times.

The police official said officers responded to a 911 call shortly after 11:00 a.m. at an apartment in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood, where they found Majors and a 30-year-old woman with injuries to her head and neck. Officers did a “preliminary investigation” and arrested the actor.

The case involved a “domestic dispute,” police said. First responders took the woman to a local hospital.

“We are quickly gathering and presenting evidence to the District Attorney with the expectation that all charges will be dropped imminently,” Major’s criminal defense lawyer, Priya Chaudhry, wrote in a statement to Army Times.

According to Chaudhry’s statement, the evidence includes video footage and witness testimony.

But in the arrest’s wake, the Army threw the brakes on its rebranding campaign.

“The U.S. Army is aware of the arrest of Jonathan Majors and we are deeply concerned by the allegations surrounding his arrest,” said Laura DeFrancisco, spokesperson for the Army Enterprise Marketing Office. The Chicago-based enterprise office oversees a multi-billion dollar contract with advertising conglomerate DDB to oversee and execute the service’s marketing efforts.

“While Mr. Majors is innocent until proven guilty, prudence dictates that we pull our ads until the investigation into these allegations is complete.” DeFrancisco added.

The financial impact of the pause is unclear, but the service invested millions of dollars in high-visibility advertisement purchases for the 2023 NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, more commonly known as March Madness. For this year’s final game, a 30-second commercial cost around $2.2 million, according to sports news site Sportico.

Army Times previously reported the “be all you can be” launch would include immersive in-person events in Texas for the tournament’s Final Four. It’s not clear if or how the pause on advertising spots featuring Majors will change those events.

Service officials couldn’t answer whether they could speed up the next round of advertisements in the works for the campaign. A senior marketing official told Army Times the next commercials were expected to arrive in August — but that was before Majors’ arrest and the advertising pause.

Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master’s thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood’s WWII movies.

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