CIA Commercial: A World of Ambiguity and Adventure

Travis Daub points to the CIA’s new recruiting commercial for the Clandestine Service:

Daub is confused by the tagline, “Are you ready for a world…of ambiguity and adventure?” saying “I’m not sure I know what that means.” One gathers it means that the CIA is looking for people who have to navigate a world where they make decisions on the fly, without guidelines or knowing whether they made the right call. That is, indeed, the world of the Intelligence Officer.

Overall, though, much like the recent U.S. Army recruiting commercials, I find them weak. The characters look wimpy and the voiceover announcer is bland. While the life of a spy isn’t much at all like a James Bond movie, that image is a major reason highly intelligent young people are willing to put their lives on the line for meager pay. Ditto the real Army and a John Wayne movie. You recruit them with the macho, train them on the duty, and keep them with job security and retirement benefits.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    James, I have to disagree. Just as the military try not to attract would be Rambos, the IC is highly suspicious of potential recruits whose idealized image of the job comes from Bond movies. People who want to draw attention to themselves will be pretty much automatically excluded. The CIA want exactly the opposite – smart, patriotic people who are willing to work in difficult and dangerous situations without the prospect of ever getting public recognition or a big paycheck.

  2. James Joyner says:

    DCL: Fair enough. It just seems that the ad is aimed at would-be bureaucrats rather than clandestine operatives.

  3. DC Loser says:

    Truth in advertising? They wouldn’t want the recruits to be disappointed when they finally get to Langley.

  4. I suppose if asked ‘Are you ready for a world…of ambiguity and adventure’ and you respond ‘I’m not sure what that means’, then that’s a pretty clear answer of no.

  5. Tis says:


    What was Valerie Plame?

    Congress already tried to close down CIA and the new Air Force Director moved all the analysts to NSA/DIA. They really are just 20 year union employees keeping what they get.

  6. DC Loser says:

    Tis – I don’t know what you’re smoking but I have to say you have no idea what you are talking about. Where are all these CIA analysts that are moving to NSA/DIA? I don’t see any.

  7. DC Loser says:

    That was my last response to the occasional loons who frequent these boards.

  8. B. Minich says:

    That tag line sounds . . . ambigious.