The new army recruitment adverts which targeted “snowflakes, phone zombies, binge gamers, selfie addicts, and me, me, millennials” trapped in “boring jobs” have reportedly seen the number of applications to join the army almost double.
Posters pay tribute to the famous Lord Kitchener “your country needs you” First World War recruitment campaign, while TV adverts target those unhappy in their work.
The army told The Daily Telegraph the controversial advertising campaign, which aimed to tackle a slump in recruitment, has been a “resounding success” after applications to join doubled in the first month.
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In the first three weeks of January, applications to join the army rose to 9,700, which is a five-year high, according to the newspaper. It is almost double the figure for January 2018 and up from nearly 5,000 in December.
On the day the posters were released, which was 3 January, more people applied to join the army than on any other day in over a year, with 2,700 applications made in the next five days.
The Ministry of Defence said the posters, which were shown on billboards and outdoor advertising around the UK, were part of a recruitment drive designed to focus on “how the army sees beyond stereotypes to spot young people’s potential”.
The army said the TV adverts tell the stories of people whose perceived weaknesses are viewed as strengths by the army.
One advert shows a father talking about his son who is staying up late playing what appears to be a fantasy video game in the sitting room.
“Can’t get him off that thing. Up all night he is,” the father says. The scene cuts to the son working in a warzone. “Stamina,” a voiceover says. “Don’t underestimate it.”
A helicopter buzzes overhead as people on stretchers are evacuated. “Dedication,” an off-screen male voice can be heard saying. “That’s just what we need,” a female soldier running between vehicles shouts.
The camera then focuses on the gamer’s eyes as the advert ends with a throbbing bass synth sound.
The TV adverts are complemented by six posters all alluding to crude stereotypes of millennials which suggest those born between the 1980s and 2000s are self-involved, idle, overly sensitive and fixated with social media.
One poster reads: “Snowflakes, your army needs you and your compassion”.
“Phone zombies, your army needs you and your focus,” says another.
While another says: “Selfie addicts, your army needs you and your confidence”.
The recruitment campaign was ridiculed and criticised by people on social media – with critics pointing out the adverts were based on perceptions that may be held by older people, but are probably not recognised by the target audience itself.
“Not sure why the British army thinks insulting young people is a good recruitment tactic. What an awful campaign,” said one Twitter user.
“Think avocado toast is cool? Try killing Her Majesty’s enemies,” quipped another.
Recent government statistics have shown that the army numbered only 79,640 out of the required 83,500. In the year to 1 October 2018, 12,130 passed basic training but 14,760 left the army.
Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, 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.”