British Army's new campaign aims to recruit 'snowflakes' and gamers

Recruitment effort shows how negative stereotypes about young people can be assets in the army.

The British Army overturns negative stereotypes about millennials and Generation Z in its latest recruitment campaign launching today.

The ads, by Karmarama, continue the "This is belonging" campaign and show how the Army sees potential in young people, despite the labels or criticism directed at them. With 72% of 16- to 25-year-olds looking for a job with purpose, according to a LinkedIn survey, the organisation claims that new recruits will have a chance to belong in a team doing meaningful work.

Each spot tells the story of an individual whose perceived weaknesses become strengths in the Army, such as a binge gamer whose stamina serves him well in the field or a class clown whose spirit cheers up his fellow soldiers.

Posters, illustrated in the style of World War One recruitment ads featuring Lord Kitchener, use derogatory phrases such as "Snowflakes", "Me me me millennials" and "Phone zombies" to highlight the qualities needed by the Army. 

The work was created by Imogen Tazzyman, James Rooke, Harriet Wiltshire and Zach Speight, and the films were directed by Johnny Green through Anonymous Content. MediaCom handled media planning and Manning Gottlieb OMD was the media buying agency. 

Major General Paul Nanson, general officer commanding, Army recruiting and Initial Training Group at the British Army, 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. 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."

The campaign comes as the Army struggles to meet its manning requirement. The organisation has 77,000 fully trained troops out of its target of 82,500, according to numbers given to the commons defence committee in October. Meanwhile, Capita, which won the contract for Army recruitment in 2012, has failed to meet recruitment targets every year since, with a shortfall ranging from 21% to 45%. 

The "This is belonging" campaign in 2017 focused on the emotional benefit of strong bonds among soldiers, while 2018’s ads showed diverse people finding their place in the Army. Last year’s work generated controversy, with some military figures criticising a perceived focus on emotional support at the expense of promoting excitement and camaraderie.

The latest work retains the Army’s long-standing slogan, "Be the best", despite speculation last year that the line would be removed from future recruitment campaigns. Defence secretary Gavin Williamson reportedly stepped in to halt plans to eliminate the slogan. 

Williamson said: "People are fundamental to the Army. The ‘Your Army needs you’ campaign is a powerful call to action that appeals to those seeking to make a difference as part of an innovative and inclusive team. 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."