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UK army recruitment ads target ‘snowflake’ millennials

UK army recruitment ads target ‘snowflake’ millennials

The British army is calling on “snowflakes, selfie addicts, class clowns, phone zombies, and me, me, millennials” to join its ranks in a recruitment drive targeting young people. The campaign, featuring posters and TV ads titled Your Army Needs You, suggests that what is seen as a weakness or a character flaw by the rest…

The British army is calling on “snowflakes, selfie addicts, class clowns, phone zombies, and me, me, millennials” to join its ranks in a recruitment drive targeting young people.

The campaign, featuring posters and TV ads titled Your Army Needs You, suggests that what is seen as a weakness or a character flaw by the rest of society can in fact be seen as a strength by the army. The campaign states that the army could use the “compassion” of “snowflakes”, the “self belief” of millennials, the “confidence” of selfie takers, and the “focus” of phone zombies.

Army recruitment campaign.

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Army recruitment campaign. Photograph: MoD/Crown Copyright/PA

The army designed the campaign to show it looks beyond these stereotypes and “sees people differently” and recognises their “need for a bigger sense of purpose”, according to British army Major General Paul Nanson.

The campaign is targeting 16 to 25-year-olds, also known as Generation Z, the nickname of the generation who were born approximately between 1995 and 2015. It will include a series of TV and radio adverts, as well as a billboard campaign.

The army based the campaign on the historic Your Country Needs You first world war poster featuring Field marshal Lord Kitchener.

The TV adverts build on the idea that young ambitious people may feel undervalued and want a job with greater purpose. These would-be recruits are first shown at home or work, with others calling out their stereotypes, before the scene suddenly changes and shows them in the army roles, ranging from soldiers assisting on humanitarian missions in war-torn villages to providing support on a hurricane relief effort.

Army recruitment campaign.

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Army recruitment campaign. Photograph: MoD/Crown Copyright/PA

The advert shows a gamer up all night, which the army sees as stamina and dedication. In another scene, someone is shown slowly stowing supermarket shopping trolleys, to the annoyance of their workmates, but the army could instead read this as them being a slow and steady perfectionist with patience.

Nanson said: “The army sees people differently and we are proud to look beyond the stereotypes and spot the potential in young people, from compassion to self-belief.”

The defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, described the campaign as “a powerful call to action that appeals to those seeking to make a difference as part of an innovative and inclusive team”.

He said: “It shows that time spent in the army equips people with skills for life and provides comradeship, adventure and opportunity like no other job does.”

“Now all jobs in the army are open to men and women. The best just got better.”

The army’s has previously been accused of bowing to “political correctness” after it launched a campaign to recruit more people from a diversity of genders, sexualities, ethnicities and faiths.

In June 2018, the Guardian revealed that the army targeted recruitment material at “stressed and vulnerable” 16-year-olds via social media on and around GCSE results day. The campaign suggested to 16-year-olds that a career in the army would still be open to them if they did not get the grades they hoped for, with critics accused the army of cynically trying to recruit young people at a time when they are worried about their future prospects.

The recruitment campaign comes as the army failed to meet recruitment targets as it “under-estimated the complexity of what it was trying to achieve” when it embarked on a project with outsourcing giant Capita, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report in December.

Capita was awarded the £495m contract for army recruitment in 2012, but the army has not recruited the number of soldiers it requires in any year since the contract began.

The Commons Defence Committee was told in October that the army currently has 77,000 fully trained troops compared with a target of 82,500.

A total of 47% of applicants dropped out of the process voluntarily in 2017-18, and both the army and Capita believe the length of the process is a significant factor in this, according to the report.

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