The British Army is calling out to binge gamers, class clowns, phone zombies, snow flakes and selfie addicts in its new recruitment drive to try and woo Generation Z youngsters.
The Your Army Needs You campaign suggests the potentially overlooked raw skills of people like gamers and daydreamers could be seen as a strength by the Army.
The campaign has been designed to show the Army looks beyond young stereotypes and “sees people differently” and recognises their “need for a bigger sense of purpose”, according to British Army Major General Paul Nanson.
Marketing is pitched towards the Gen Z or Generation Z youngsters, the nickname of the generation who were born approximately between 1995 and 2015, as 16 to 25-year-olds are a key recruitment range.
The recent First World War centenary may have raised awareness of the famous Lord Kitchener-style recruitment posters of that time which have been updated.
Based on the historic Your Country Needs You First World War poster featuring the stern-eyed British field marshal, the new billboards call out to “Me Me Me Millennials”, “Class Clowns”, “Binge Gamers”, “Phone Zombies”, “Snow Flakes”, “Selfie Addicts” and say the army needs their potential and assets. These are named as their self-belief, spirit, drive, focus, compassion and confidence.
TV adverts build on the idea that young ambitious people may feel undervalued and want a job with purpose. Would-be recruits are shown at home or work, with others calling out their stereotypes, before the scene changes to show them in the Army roles including as soldiers assisting on humanitarian missions in war-torn villages and supporting on a hurricane relief effort.
There is a gamer who is up all night but the Army might see stamina and dedication, according to the advert. Someone is also shown slowly stowing supermarket shopping trolleys, to the annoyance of their workmates, but the Army could potentially read this as them being a slow and steady perfectionist with patience.
The adverts are the latest part of a recruitment campaign which has previously drawn criticism suggesting it makes the Army appear “soft”. Topics included the emotional benefit of the strong bonds of being in the Army and inclusivity.
What may be seen as weaknesses may be seen as strengths by the Army, according to Maj Gen Nanson.
He 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.”
Britain's 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.”
It comes as the British 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 controversially awarded the £495 million 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.
Britain's Commons Defence Committee was told in October that the Army currently has 77,000 fully trained troops compared with a target of 82,500.
Figures relate to half of regular soldier applicants in the first six months of 2018-19.
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, the report said.
- Press Association