Though women have served on the frontline in the British Army since 2018, the question “What’s it like being a female soldier?” persists.
In this latest female-led recruitment drive, Karmarama has created "A soldier is a soldier" to drive home the message that in the Army, soldiers are defined by their skills, not gender. It also reminds the viewer there are equal expectations and equal pay according to rank for all soldiers.
At present, female representation is currently at 9.8% in the British Army and 14.2% in the Army Reserves.
The 60-second spot, narrated by serving female soldiers, opens with a soldier pondering the question: “What’s it like being a female soldier?” Answering their own question, the narrator replies: “I wouldn’t know, because in the Army, a soldier is a soldier."
The real female soldiers’ voices narrate striking visuals, opening with a wound held together with stitches that spell out “good for a woman”’ as the narrator explains that “no-one calls me ‘good for a woman’ when I’m the one stitching them up”.
Adam Kean executive creative director at Karmarama, told Campaign: “A lot of people had very strong opinions about how we should approach this. We were wrestling with it, and then we had a bit of an epiphany where we asked ourselves: ‘What would the Army say?’
“The Army has a very simple and practical approach to these things. We spoke to some female soldiers and they're kind of embarrassed to talk about it in some ways; to them, it’s nothing to do with being female, they’re just soldiers and that stuck with us.
"The phrase ‘a soldier is a soldier’ felt like the right place to start. And also, it speaks for a bigger agenda in the Army, which is that is true for everyone; whether it's gender, or any kind of diversity and ethnicity thing, soldiers are all the same.
"It has to be like that, not just because for moral reasons but for practical reasons too. They're all the same high standard.”
Addressing stereotypes head-on, the ad then cuts to ridiculous concepts of female-adapted Army equipment such as “beach body rations” and a rifle with a diamante-studded “easy-pull trigger for smaller hands”, outlining how these would never exist in the Army.
The voiceover goes on to speak about how there are no male or female signs on toilet doors or teams of women in the Army.
Kean admits the ad deliberately uses phrases used to patronise women in everyday life, adding: “We wanted to give a bit of provocation, a bit of edge and immediately it lifted the tone slightly, as there is a danger of appearing a little bit po-faced. The soldiers we spoke to said ‘You don’t need to mansplain this to us’ and that’s why comedy became the right tone.”
The campaign was developed by Karmarama together for Capita – which has the contract for Army recruitment – and The British Army and will run across cinema, video-on-demand, radio, and social media.
LADbible Group also worked with the Army as part of the wider 'A Soldier is a Soldier campaign.' Its in-house creative team Joyride created a video featuring three female soldiers talking about their experiences and additional content will run on its Instagram and Facebook channels to an audience of over 50 million, 52% of which is female.
Major General Sharon Nesmith, general officer commanding Army recruiting and initial training command said: “We hope that ‘A solider is a soldier’ challenges people’s perceptions of female soldiers and highlights the incredible work all of our soldiers do, in order to inspire potential new recruits to consider Army jobs.”
Karmarama senior planner Rhonwen Lally said the campaign was inspired in part by a quote from Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders.
He said: ‘Under fire, no-one cares if someone is black or white, gay or straight, because they value the individual for who he or she is, what he or she can do, and because they are so utterly dependent on him or her’.”
Lally said: “We wanted to retain that fundamental Army truth.”
Lieut Gen Sanders’ quote is from an open letter he penned in 2017 in which he warned that discrimination, bullying and prejudice remain issues in the Armed Forces.