Who, me?
January 3, 2019 4:22 AM   Subscribe

The UK Army is recruiting snowflakes, binge gamers, phone zombies and me-me-me millennials.

These posters are accompanied by videos where the 'flaws' are recast with a positive light. The artwork recalls the original "Lord Kitchener Wants You" advert (which was widely imitated).

The UK Army has been trying to diversify in recent years, with TV adverts aimed at recruiting from different groups, as well as opening the process to people from Commonwealth countries.

The current size of the army is relatively small which is partly due to the difficulty of recruitment (although some have blamed inefficiencies in the process) and despite a relatively large budget (pdf).
posted by Stark (34 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
As long as the Tories continue eroding the economy and national services, the military ought to eventually see a rising tide of applicants who have no life alternatives when they reach their majority.
posted by at by at 5:09 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


Non-socially conforming individuals! Including those with luminous noses, unauthorized job skills, and/or excessive height, to name a few! Santa Corporation requires YOU for the successful completion of Project Slieghride! As your reward for pledging your unique talents to the service of the Christmas Hegemony, you will be rewarded with subsistence wages and the churlish acceptance of your mainstream peers! SIGN UP TODAY!
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:15 AM on January 3 [16 favorites]


It'll never work.

They can't swim,
They attract enemy radar,
They attract sharks,
They insist on being placed at the Captain's Table,
They get up late,
They nudge people while they're shooting,
They muck about!
posted by ZJQJ at 5:19 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


When you retire at night you think to yourself "God... will I wake up and find everybody dead?"
posted by Omission at 5:36 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


“Millennials:

Sad about Brexit, and losing your freedom of movement?
Missing the possibility of partying in Berlin, Barcelona or Ibiza?

Join the Army!

Get to travel the world* without a visa. Enjoy peak experiences with other young people like yourself.

* Syria, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, the Falklands, but you never know: you may be in France, Germany or Spain soon enough."
posted by acb at 5:37 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


"Anyone else not 'appy with my little scheme of marching hup and down the square...?"
posted by Redhush at 5:48 AM on January 3 [13 favorites]


As your reward for pledging your unique talents to the service of the Christmas Hegemony, you will be rewarded with subsistence wages

Pretty sure the elves got paid in “Christmas cheer” (they did it for the exposure), but they were probably recruited with a similar series of condescending ads.
posted by schadenfrau at 5:50 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


First-person shooters: your army needs you to level up.
posted by pracowity at 6:00 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


If they relaxed their grooming standards, they could just put old Lord Kitchener's mug up there and get the hipster crowd.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:15 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


The fun part is while the Tories will warble on about global Britain and projecting power, most Britons will be quite happy to stay at home and mind their own business. This is why Trident is great, it stops them spending money on anything else. Rather they just do laps of the north Atlantic than foreign adventures.
posted by Damienmce at 6:32 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Sounds like the UK is looking for recruits with character traits and habits from Spaced.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:41 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


TORIES
we need YOU
to fuck off
posted by Sys Rq at 7:14 AM on January 3 [16 favorites]


at by: the military ought to eventually see a rising tide of applicants who have no life alternatives

I've heard this called an Economic Draft in the U.S. Seems about right.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:34 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


"Well, if you knows of a better ‘ole, go to it."
posted by octobersurprise at 7:40 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


This feels like satire?

Surely this is satire?
posted by Faintdreams at 7:51 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I’m these times I’m surprised no one has just gone outright to “Hate foreigners? Have we got a job for you!” or I guess here we might say something like “Gammons, your army needs you and your bigotry”
posted by rodlymight at 7:51 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Beyond parody.

I can’t wait ‘til the war with Russia starts.
posted by Middlemarch at 8:37 AM on January 3


Trombley: Sergeant, I didn't get to shoot!
Person: That fucking sucks, Trombley. Did your recruiting officer tell you you'd get to shoot people?
Trombley: Fucking 'A' he did!
Person: See, Trombley asked about shooting people. I asked about pussy. The guy told me I'd get to go to Thailand, get all kinds of strange. What'd you ask about, Brad? Brad probably saw that T.V. commercial, the one with the knight that fucks up the dragon then turns into the Marine.
Hasser: Woo woo! Dress blues with a sword!
Person: Fucking dress blues commercial man. That got so many fucking guys. Now look at us: Trombley hasn't killed anybody, I'm half a world away from good Thai pussy, and Colbert is out here rolling around fuckbutt Iraq, hunting for dragons in a MOPP suit that smells like four days of piss and ball sweat.
Trombley: Nice.
Person: You should have rolled into battle with a sword, Brad. That would've fuckin' rocked.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:43 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Interesting article from Seattle about U.S. Army recruiting.

The Army, in need of recruits, turns focus to Seattle, other liberal-leaning cities

Set aside the healthy military skepticism for a minute. If you don't want a draft, you have to have volunteers. To have volunteers, you need, you know, volunteers.

Recruiting-wise, the U.S. Army -- and I bet the UK Army faces a similar challenge -- is in a real bind. They don't have an identity that organically attracts volunteers. Want to be the few, the proud? Join the Marines. See the world? Join the Navy. Wanna "aim high," fly airplanes or work with computers? Air Force. Rescue people for a living? Coast Guard. What does the Army do? Artillery. Tanks. Rifles, running and push-ups. And, oh yeah, IEDs and amputees.

This is a branding challenge. It's why there's been so many different Army taglines. Be all you can be. An Army of one. Army Strong.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:59 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Canadian Armed Forces commercials seem to tend towards a "do good in the world, be your best self, etc." theme, while the American ones I saw over the holidays are all BLAM KAPOW RAWWWRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:35 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Do Michael Bay-era Transformers films count as US Army recruiting commercials?
posted by acb at 9:46 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


the American ones I saw over the holidays are all BLAM KAPOW RAWWWRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

Oh yeah, I noticed that, too! I was like, wait, are they actually showing soldiers shooting at people in a recruiting commercial? I mean, sure, that's the job (sadly). But that's a bit more, ahem, specific than a Marine fighting a dragon with a sword.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:59 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


You can't see what (if anything) they're shooting at, which made me think of this scene from Predator. Also, I am the furthest thing from a student of modern military tactics, but I have a feeling they're more complex than "charge towards the enemy at full speed and in a tightly-packed group while firing wildly in their general direction."
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:05 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


while the American ones I saw over the holidays are all BLAM KAPOW RAWWWRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

It's fascinating that the US Army ones appear to be based around an idealized post cold war conception of itself. Are we reeeeealllyy going to make a close formation charge in Humvees? Is shooting an artillery piece from 1976 reaaaaallllyy that much more fun now that it has a monochrome LCD on it? Is Black Hawk Down reaaaaallllly our model for urban combat?

Is life imitating art?
posted by ethansr at 10:06 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Want to convince young people that you don't see them in terms of tired, lazy, out-of-touch stereotypes about Those Inscrutable Millennials?

Don't try to relate to them in terms of tired, lazy, out-of-touch stereotypes.

Just, like, talk to them like they're people.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:23 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]




Does the British Army pay for college?
They're certainly known for providing a technical education. The IT technician at my college (30 years ago), had been in the army (notably Northern Ireland, which led to some frissony interactions with students who were the 1980s equivalent of woke, and therefore pro-IRA-ish). He was from Hull (I think) originally, and said he'd had the choice between the army and going on the fishing boats, and he chose the army because it was less dangerous.

Army's £113m recruitment website 'was 52 months late'
Yeah, that's what happens when you outsource to the private sector.

I find the notion that the armed forces might be the closest thing we have left to a liberal society to be quite unnerving, actually.
posted by Grangousier at 10:46 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


escape from the potato planet: Want to convince young people that you don't see them in terms of tired, lazy, out-of-touch stereotypes about Those Inscrutable Millennials?

Don't try to relate to them in terms of tired, lazy, out-of-touch stereotypes.

Just, like, talk to them like they're people.


Failing that, putting avocado toast in the MREs will do the trick.
posted by dr_dank at 11:53 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Millennials are actually getting up there for prime-age military service--they need to be pitching to Gen Z or whatever we are calling their kids.
posted by praemunire at 3:27 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Ha yeah, the writer of the article is more cogniscent of the actual generational target than the headline or the military posters:
The campaign is targeting 16- to 25-year-olds, part of what is sometimes known as Generation Z.
posted by foxfirefey at 4:06 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I'm right in the target demographic for this. I thought I'd not be the right nationality, but apparently they'd take me regardless.
I absolutely hate it. It's insulting, it's rude, it's infantilising and displays an ignorance of whatever generational consciousness you could claim we all share.
Now, some of you may be aware I'm not keen on the military more generally. I can't go back in time, but I feel like a few years ago, when I tried to join the RAN fresh out of highschool, I would have still not appreciated these advertisements.
It's like they skimmed the worst of the latest crop of stupid generational theory op-eds and took what seemed like the most provocative insults right out of the top. Hell, as much as I hate those articles usually, at least they tend to delve a teensy bit deeper into the reasons why we are or aren't these things and why we are cast as being these things.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 10:31 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


(What's the Telegraph doing using the Sun as its source - where are the data?)

Yes, this is interesting. It's not entirely clear to me what they trying to do - recruit a more diverse group of children and young people, or those with different skills and intelligence types, or different class backgrounds ... or just up recruitment in general, which is probably the most likely.

There was a study in 2012 about the literacy and numeracy levels of forces recruits, which was fairly compelling. Almost 40% of army recruits have reading age of 11. 4% of army recruits had the literacy level expected at KS1, and 2% the numeracy levels. One would imagine that these children and young people would need some support to make an informed decision about joining up. Also, 28% of new recruits at that point were aged 16 or 17.

Anecdotally, I have heard that care leavers are disproportionally likely to join the forces, and may of course be particularly vulnerable. I can't find any data on this, though there is a recent Care Leavers' Covenant from the MoD.
posted by paduasoy at 1:44 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Found a bit more data on recruitment age. In 2013/14 20% of other ranks and zero or rounded to zero % of officers who joined in the year were under 18 - source: Table 5. The number of leavers in the year aged under 18 was about a quarter of the total joiners in that age group. There's a more recent report but as far as I can see it only gives the age breakdown for newly recruited officers, not other ranks. And more data here but no age figures as far as I can see.
posted by paduasoy at 2:01 PM on January 4


Guardian article talking about the adverts - noting that the recruitment profile for army recruitment (as of September last year) was "16-24, primarily C2DE, attracted to risk, easily influenced and money-driven, but not good at money management." The UK Army, the only one in Europe which recruits from as young as 16 - has been about 7% below its recruitment target since 2012.
posted by rongorongo at 1:33 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]


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