There has been a huge backlash from those serving in the military in response to the latest recruitment campaign. It is the advertising equivalent of #DadDancing.
With mixed reviews from commentators and controversy fuelled by soldier Stephen McWhirter (poster boy for the ‘Snowflake’ poster) who on Facebook accused the army of leaving him open to ridicule, claiming that he did agree to the use of his photo he was not aware of the context and that it would be used alongside the word ‘Snowflake’. Later he said he would resign as soon as he could.
Aside from pissing off those who serve, targeting people that the military generally ridicule, the campaign also insults the very audience it is trying to attract.
Class Clowns YOUR ARMY NEEDS YOU and your spirit
Snowflakes YOUR ARMY NEEDS YOU and your compassion
Me Me Me Millennials YOUR ARMY NEEDS YOU and your self-belief
Phone Zombies YOUR ARMY NEEDS YOU and your focus
Binge Gamers YOUR ARMY NEEDS YOU and your drive
Selfie Addicts YOUR ARMY NEEDS YOU and your confidence
If they had tailored the messages more positively they would not be facing this backlash.
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Think Prinicple McGee’s speech at the end of Grease:
“Attention seniors. Before the merriment of commencement commences, I hope that your years with us here at Rydell have prepared you for the challenges you face. Who knows. Among you there may be a future Eleanor Roosevelt or a Rosemary Clooney, and among you young men, there may be a Joe DiMaggio, a President Eisenhower, or a Vice-President Nixon. But you will always the glorious memories of Rydell High. Rydell forever. Bon voyage.”
The very millennials they are trying to attract will not identify the labels they have been given. “Snowflake” for example began as a US term for a democrat and liberal and has extended beyond to insult other ‘free thinking’ individuals but it’s not a term than is recognised or used by millennials. Gamers don’t call themselves “Gamer Zombies” and self centred Millennials don’t think of themselves as ‘me, me, me millennials’.
It is the advertising equivalent of #DadDancing and if the army wants to broaden it’s appeal then it has to learn to communicate and entice the very audience it wants to attract and not insult them with messages that are unrelatable.
The Army said:
“TheArmy has been working to broaden the appeal of an Army career to a much wider audience. This is not about political correctness – it is about numbers. The plain fact is, if we only advertised for those who were going to join anyway (the ‘core intender’ audience) though showing only tanks, helicopters and guns, we would never get enough applicants.
Over the past two years ‘This is belonging’ has addressed this by challenging traditional Army stereotypes (the perception of us as being tough guys, lunatics or ruthlesskillers), by making the Army feel less intimidating & more accessible to broader elements of society – females, ethnic minorities, etc”
Army recruitment is a sausage machine and the production line is short of meat. Really, the army couldn’t give a fuck what group you come from they are desperate. They might have well have run a campaign saying;
“Need a job. Join the army. Any fucker will do. We are desperate.”
The Army sought support from the serving to have its back in brand new 2019 New Year marketing campaign by begging for a combined show of force by those on the ground to inspire the next generation to join up and “Be The Best”. The new marketing activity, called “This is belonging – Your Army Needs You 19 recruit marketing campaign” went live on Thursday 3rdJanuary 2019.
Anonymous rumour forums are having a negative impact on army recruitment and this coupled with Capita failings to recruit enough people has seen skill shortages in 102 separate critical areas across the armed forces and a shortage of 8200 regular personnel. In October 2018 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) revealed that Capita, humorously called “Crapita” in inner circles has brought in fewer than 1 in 10 of the recruits needed by the Army.
Added to a lot of transformation such as the Modernising Defence Programme, outlined by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson on the 18thDecember in parliament has fostered uncertainty in the brand identity of the army creating an enormous impact on army recruitment. This has left the army massively under resourced and those serving carrying the burden caused by the under staffing.
Research has shown that millennials are sceptical about the army and the opportunities that it offers. In addition, there is a feeling of embarrassment by those who serve regarding the 2018 ‘This is belonging’ campaign. The adverts were criticised by some commentators including Colonel Richard Kemp stating the new campaign projected the image of an Army “being forced down a route of political correctness”.
The 2019 Your Army Needs You campaign plans to demonstrate that joining the army is a life changing decision and that motivating such a big decision has become harder. The employment market is more competitive, people are less likely to know anyone in the army or even know what the army do these days. The campaign plans to reassert what belonging in the army can offer this generation. They consider the audience ambitious and seeking purpose. Research shows that young people feel trapped in unrewarding jobs creating opportunity to show that it’s not like that in the army.
The campaign launched with attention grabbing billboard posters and social media which challenge stereotypes of young people to show how the army spots their potential. TV and radio adverts inform the audience showing army work worldwide where this generations potential is needed to do something important launched at start of January with further channels relevant to potential recruits showing what’s on offer in more depth with the intention of driving them towards application.