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Why the British Army’s new campaign is brilliant advertising


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The British Army has launched a new campaign appealing to recruit ‘snowflakes’ and ‘binge gamers’, a direct and attention-grabbing address that has attracted a lot of controversy on Twitter from people who stopped reading the poster after the first line.

The poster pays homage to the World War I Kitchener poster, putting a modern spin on the familiar ‘Your Country Needs You’ template.

The campaign itself subverts the expectations of the reader and highlights the merits of traits the younger generation are often mocked or belittled for. ‘Selfie addicts’ are sought after for their ‘confidence,’ and ‘snowflakes’ for their ‘compassion’.

Often, millennials who are dismissed as ‘binge gamers’ or ‘phone zombies’ may feel as though their traits are undervalued or not respected in the typical workplace. It is an intelligent move for the Army to reach out and contradict the put-downs that they’ve probably grown used to over time. 

Major General Paul Nanson commented on the campaign, stating that: "The Army sees people differently and we are proud to look beyond the stereotypes and spot potential in young people, from compassion to self-belief. We understand the drive they have to succeed and recognise their need for a bigger sense of purpose in a job where they can do something meaningful."

Image Courtesy of The Ministry of Defence

This spin on advertising comes after Army recruitment fell short, failing to meet its target of 82,500 fully trained troops by October last year. Typically, the British Army can have some bad-press for it’s heavy-handed advertising and it’s apparent correlation with GCSE Results Day. This is something they’ve been criticised for in the past, due to its ‘predatory’ attitude towards younger people at a vulnerable time for them.

The controversy surrounding this new angle is coming from both sides - from those who think that the posters attack and humiliate millennials, and those who think that ‘me me me millennials’ are not Army material.

Terms such as ‘snowflake’ have become a bit of a buzzword in recent years to use against younger people who voice their offense at controversial topics or opinions. It’s an interesting stance for the Army to take to associate it positively and alongside compassion - this certainly explains some of the backlash on Twitter, especially from those who throw this word around as a casual insult themselves.

Others have taken offense at the incorporation of this word and taken the ad campaign at face value to be condoning its use. 

This trend of the British Army addressing a more sensitive, supportive angle, rather than relying on the stereotyped ‘physical thrill’ has met some concerns from the public. In early 2018, the Army released an advert that was voiced by serving soldiers and directly confronted questions such as, "What if I get emotional?", and "Can I be gay in the Army?". This was critiqued in a number of publications who felt that it was pandering to ‘political correctness’, and would actively discourage potential soldiers who weren’t part of a minority group.

Image Courtesy of The Ministry of Defence

In conclusion, the Army is choosing a very deliberate direction to move in. They have chosen a little more compassion, and a little more in the way of acceptance and understanding. Despite clashing with some, and angering others, they are showing that they are listening to and taking on board feedback from the young people they seek to engage with. At the end of the day, the people they are trying to win over are this age bracket - not Nigel Farage, or the 40-year-old Twitter warriors who are battling it out online.

 Lead Image Courtesy of The Ministry of Defence

Check out the full gallery of images from the campaign below and the other side in 'Why the British Army’s new campaign is patronising and alienating' by Ellen Barr.

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