5 January, 2019 - 14:55 By Richard Taylor, Managing Director, Simpsons Creative

Operation snowflake: Have Army recruitment Ads gone soft?

‘Bring back National Service’ is the oft repeated cry of the older generation when the current crop of youth seems particularly feckless.

The idea being that a spot of square and spud bashing will instil some much-needed discipline and moral fibre in the degenerate bunch.

So, it’s somewhat surprising that a new ad campaign just launched by the Army is seeking to enlist recruits from, quote ‘snowflakes’, ‘phone zombies’, ‘selfie addicts’, ‘class clowns’ and ‘me, me, me, millennials’. 

You are much misunderstood the ads claim. We appreciate your hidden talents and want to put them to use.

The ads, which are a spoof of the old Lord Kitchener ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster, promise snowflakes that the Army needs their compassion, assure Phone Zombies that they need their focus, and tell Millennials that they value their self-belief.

You must admit that appealing to their vanity rather than their public spirit or patriotism is a clever ploy, even if it does involve a certain sleight of hand. I mean, can you imagine a Sergeant Major addressing Snowflake squaddies in a gentle, non-judgement way? Or tolerating the Class Clown wearing his forage cap back to front?

I’m reminded of that comic song, popular during the last war, ‘Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergeant Major’ which includes the verse: ‘Don’t forget to wake me in the morning / With a nice hot cup of tea / Kiss me goodnight Sergeant Major / Sergeant Major be a mother to me.’

Well, reality will hit soon enough, but by then they’ll have them by the short and curlies, soon to become a short back and sides! And who knows, perhaps the army will succeed in making men (and women) of Generation Z.

The TV ads that support the poster campaign make a rather more convincing case that they can. Cleverly intercut between scenes of the candidates’ humdrum daily lives and their active role in the forces, they make the point that what seems like a negative in civvy life can be a positive advantage in the army.  

Thus obsession (video gamer) becomes stamina (front line serviceman), slowness (supermarket trolley stacker) becomes patience and thoroughness (field nurse), and larkiness (class clown) becomes inspiration (morale building comrade).

As an ad campaign its clever and creative and like all good ad campaigns its built around a strong promise (in this case that the army will validate and transform you as a person).  Whether it makes good on that promise is another matter.

But if it succeeds in reversing the Army’s drastically declining numbers, we may not have to reintroduce National Service after all!


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