Cashing in on (and utilizing) a government intangible asset – the Pentagon

In previous postings I’ve noted that government agencies, especially the military, license out their brand and logos. Here is another example of revenue from a government asset. According to a story in today’s Washington Post (“On the big screen, Pentagon wants accuracy”):

The practice of supporting films is so ingrained that the Pentagon has a price list online for military hardware leased out to approved films.
An hour’s rental of an airborne command post — which in the event of nuclear war would serve as Air Force One — costs $72,000 for a movie the Pentagon wants to support. A B-1B long-range bomber costs $50,529 an hour, and an F-16 fighter goes for $10,181 an hour. The budget-minded could rent a training glider for as little as $89 an hour.

But the real pay-off for the military is in the publicity it gets from these films. As the story notes:

Film historian Lawrence Suid said that before the 1960s, virtually every American film about the U.S. military had official support, from advice on a script to the use of military hardware and installations.
In his book “Guts and Glory,” Suid noted that the Pentagon benefits from movies when recruiting and by informing the public and Congress about its activities.
The effectiveness of movies as a recruiting tool has never been quantified, but Suid notes that films helped each branch of service rehabilitate its tattered image after Vietnam. And it is no accident that many of the movies the Defense Department supports are blockbusters, which attract teenagers, many of them approaching or at the age at which they can volunteer for service.

And the Pentagon knows this:

“In World War II, virtually every American had a friend or relative in the service,” [Philip Strub, director of the Pentagon’s entertainment media office] said. “That’s not the case today. A much smaller percentage of the country has a direct tie to the military, so for many Americans what they learn about the services comes through film. ”
Some of the films that have received support would be familiar to most moviegoers: “Top Gun,” “The Killing Fields,” “Judgment at Nuremberg,” “From Here to Eternity,” “Jurassic Park III,” “Invaders From Mars” and “It Came From Beneath the Sea.”
“We could never hope to buy that level of exposure,” Strub said.

That is a perfect case of leveraging your intangible assets.

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