“It's always been a part of me to fight for those who couldn't fight for themselves, whether on my block or around the world,” King says in the television commercial.
In the last fiscal year, 4.7 percent of those joining as Marine Corps officers were black and 8.4 percent were Latino. In the overall force, enlisted and officer, the Marine Corps has 10 percent black and 12.9 percent Latino.
Women make up about 7 percent, in part because the Marine Corps' main mission is ground combat, where most billets remain off-limits to women. That is changing, with women being encouraged to transfer into some jobs that would put them close to ground combat.
The percentages of women and black in the Marine Corps remain below those of the Army - although the percentages of minorities have been increasing for the Marines in recent years.
“The commandant's view is that it's not enough,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of recruiting, which oversees a $100-million-a-year advertising budget.
“We want a depth of strength in the organization that we won't have without diversity,” Osterman said.
Commandant Gen. James Amos has made diversity a priority of his tenure as the top Marine, along with recognizing the service of African American Marines during World War II, who were trained separately from whites and often relegated to lesser billets.
“I hope (the ad campaign) successfully portrays a different side of the Corps to the many concerned parents and potential candidates,” King said.