Backlash as British Army reveals ad campaign calling on ‘snowflakes’ and ‘millennials’ to sign up

Some of the poster adverts for the British Army's latest recruitment campaign. Photo: PA
Some of the poster adverts for the British Army's latest recruitment campaign. Photo: PA
0
Have your say

‘SNOWFLAKES’, gaming addicts and millennials have been targeted in a new recruitment drive by the British Army which has been condemned by veterans.

The campaign, which features posters and TV ads titled ‘Your Army Needs You’, launched today and is aimed at hiring young soldiers aged 16 to 25.

The 'Your Army Needs You' campaign has been launched by the British Army today. Photo: PA

The 'Your Army Needs You' campaign has been launched by the British Army today. Photo: PA

The three adverts tell the stories of individuals whose perceived weaknesses are seen as strengths by the army.

Billboard posters also claim the army could use the ‘compassion’ of ‘snowflakes’, the ‘self-belief’ of millennials, the ‘confidence’ of selfie takers, and the ‘focus’ of phone zombies.

Potential recruits are shown at home or work, with others calling out their stereotypes, before the scene changes to depict them in the army performing roles where their potential is recognised.

However, the campaign – which is inspired by historic First World War Your Country Needs You poster featuring Field Marshal Lord Kitchener – has come under fire from veteran soldiers in Portsmouth, who branded it a ‘national embarrassment’.

Lt Col (retired) Chris Parker in Iraq. He is the chairman of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment Association which represents hundreds of soldiers in the Portsmouth area.

Lt Col (retired) Chris Parker in Iraq. He is the chairman of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment Association which represents hundreds of soldiers in the Portsmouth area.

Simon Poland is an Afghanistan veteran from Fareham. He said: ‘This is unbelievable, I’m lost for words.

‘It’s extremely embarrassing and makes the once-respected British Army a laughing stock.’

Dad-of-six Stephen James was a former Private in the army. The 31-year-old, of Portsmouth, was dumbfounded by the campaign and simply asked: ‘Is this a joke? What fresh hell is this?’

While an Iraq veteran from Portsmouth, who asked not to be named, added: ‘This is political correctness gone bonkers.  It makes the army look ridiculous.

‘I’m just worried  damage this is could have on the British Army’s reputation as a world-renowned fighting force is gut-wrenching.’

The army designed the campaign to show that it looks beyond stereotypes and ‘sees people differently’, and recognises their ‘need for a bigger sense of purpose’, according to Major General Paul Nanson.

He 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 army is facing a recruiting crisis and is still struggling to hit manpower targets.

According to the most recent government statistics the army has 79,640 soldiers, out of a requirement for 83,500.

While the army’s manpower strength had dropped by 3.1 per cent with 14,760 people having left the force in the past year compared  12,130 soldiers recruited, a decline of 130 from the previous year.

Lieutenant Colonel Chris Parker, chairman of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment Association - which represents hundreds of soldiers in the Portsmouth area - said some in the forces community would have their reservations about the latest drive to recruit fresh troops.

But the officer, who grew up in Cowplain, said: ‘The over-30 age group who are not the target of this recruiting drive will be cynical of its message, I am sure.

‘Yet any army must reflect the society it serves. They do need different recruits for the many and varied jobs on offer to serve in our modern army.’

Defence secretary Gavin 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.’