The Army’s new recruitment campaign, which aims to appeal to young people by turning stereotypes about the generation on their head, has been met with ridicule and criticism from social media users.
Created by Karmarama, the campaign includes executions in the style of the iconic Lord Kitchener poster from World War I directed at groups including "snowflakes", "binge gamers" and "selfie addicts", while TV ads depict how the same personality types could prove beneficial in the Army.
A number of critics on Twitter pointed out that the campaign made use of stereotypes that may be held by older people, but are probably not recognised by the target audience itself.
Think avocado toast is cool? Try killing Her Majesty's enemies— Dan (@WarioDraghi) January 3, 2019
Not sure why the British Army thinks insulting young people is a good recruitment tactic. What an awful campaign. pic.twitter.com/5DjI4GHVPq— Sarah Hayward (@Sarah_Hayward) January 3, 2019
This new ad campaign from the British Army is not just insulting, its insults are totally misfired. People don’t take selfies because of confidence, but often insecurity. Millennials don’t have an excess of self-belief as anxiety rates show. Phones don’t help focus. Etc etc etc . pic.twitter.com/UVNmaOSCFd— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) January 3, 2019
Disagree with this. For me, the new recruitment campaign is slightly misguided in its attempts to use humour to overcome negative stereotypes. What they'll actually achieve with this is turning off the very people they want to sign up. https://t.co/M7bnybp5Qn— Alex Humphries (@Alex_Humphries) 4 January 2019
Others, meanwhile, objected to the Force carrying out a recruitment campaign, full stop.
What the British Army doesn't understand is that millennial recruitment into the Army isn't low because they're failing to engage with us, it's low because we're not a generation of bootlicking imbeciles https://t.co/jd3tsNBtwY— Kate Flood (@KateFlood) January 3, 2019
The new British Army campaign is horrible. Stop tryna convince the kids to die for you— Shotty Horroh (@ShottyHorroh) January 3, 2019
The response was not universally critical - some commentators offered a positive take on the campaign's strategy.
As a young "#Millennial" or "Gen Z" myself, I actually think this campaign by the British Army is very clever. Quite appealing to an extent. If you read what’s being said, it makes sense?? https://t.co/wCaveCqta4— Philip?????????? (@_phil0sophical) January 4, 2019
I think it's more meant to catch potential recruits eye and suggest that they can be army material despite their pre conceived notions of what a soldier is.— Raz_FX/SC2?? (@Raz0r_FX_SC2) January 4, 2019
All in all I think it's a pretty smart campaign. You can make a soldier out of all sorts of people.
And others produced what they considered more apt renditions of the ads.
Really daring this British Army campaign pic.twitter.com/QOSzLxJPOo— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) January 3, 2019
But as Lucy Fisher, defence journalist at The Times, pointed out, the success of a campaign is not necessarily proportionate to its likeability.
Judging by Twitter reaction today, the Army's new ad campaign is highly divisive - but consequently generating a hell of a lot of chat... & surely that's a major metric of success in advertising? More young people will hear about the recruitment drive as a result. https://t.co/Y12mxSYfeH— Lucy Fisher (@LOS_Fisher) January 3, 2019
A version of this article first appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign