Campaign: Soldier Recruiting
Client: Army Recruiting Group
Principal authors: Mark Tomblin, Publicis; Mark Pihlens, Publicis
With contributions from: Adrian Marks, ZenithOptimedia
Media used: TV
Remember the Army's "Be the best" campaign of 1994? It was one of the most respected - and awarded - campaigns of the decade. But it consistently failed to meet the Ministry of Defence's recruitment targets. In fact, during the mid-90s, the gap between the desired and the actual number of soldiers got steadily bigger.
The campaign's strength was also its weakness. It was saying to the British public "bet you can't do this", and many potential soldiers agreed. Also, unemployment had fallen dramatically (from 9.4 per cent in 1994 to 5.3 per cent in 2001), young people were being encouraged into higher education and a chronic lack of fitness among the "PlayStation generation" had worsened since 1994.
Publicis decided to target "challenge seekers", young people who might not have considered signing up, but who had the right qualities to thrive in the modern Army environment.
These people expect a sequence of jobs over time, the authors argue, that they build into a working life. The Army was therefore positioned as "the ultimate skills provider". It was repackaged as a place where people could pick up life skills, but in an exciting context.
Instead of the usual spots on ITV, the new Army commercials ran on Channel 4, five and satellite, to encourage responses from the Army's core 18- to 24-year-old target group.
The change in strategy has halted the decline in responses, while the new creative approach brought about an abrupt reversal of fortunes in late 2002.
The judges' view
This solid paper describes how the Army successfully deployed its communications resources to meet its recruitment needs more effectively and efficiently than in the past.