The British Army’s has caused quite the stir. Although this time it’s across Facebook, not the Faroes.
As part of the “This is belonging” campaign, the army has released posters illustrated in the style of World War One recruitment ads featuring Lord Kitchener. The posters use derogatory phrases such as “Snowflakes”, “Me me me millennials” and “Phone zombies” to highlight the qualities needed by the Army.
As one particularly ‘un-astute’ twitter user observed: “I think this ad campaign might not understand that no young people actually call themselves snowflakes – it’s a word entirely reserved for right wing commentators and their acolytes.”
Whilst labour Politician Sarah Hayward added, “Not sure why the British Army thinks insulting young people is a good recruitment tactic. What an awful campaign.”
Not only has a vast majority of the twitter sphere, who pride themselves on their unique ability to detect offence at the slightest whiff of controversy, grossly misunderstood the advert, but they’ve also misunderstood the fact that it doesn’t even need to be understood to be effective.
Firstly, the advert is clearly saying that the army doesn’t see you the same way other hierarchical baby boomer lead institutions do. The message is clear “compassion does not make you a snowflake”, a “selfie doesn’t mean you’re self-obsessed”, and most importantly “we need and appreciate you.”
The prevailing wisdom is that millennials don’t want to join the army, but want ever larger trainers, more Instagram followers and vegan sausage rolls. However, is this now just a blanketed stereotype casted across all young people? The British army seems to think so.
A recent survey by LinkedIn showed that 74% of 16 to 25-year-olds want a job with purpose. Whilst a survey from Teach First found that 10 million Britain’s find their job so dull, they lie about what they do. With seismic shifts occurring not only in the nature of warfare, but also in army culture; who’s to say the army can’t provide young people with the meaning and pride they say they’re looking for?
Secondly, if that’s not the case. I’ve seen it, the media’s seen it and we’re certainly discussing it. As I’ve written before, when you have little to lose, the adage ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ rings truer and truer. If their numbers are dwindling, this much press can only help and if you did find offence here; ask yourself? Was that poster ever really meant for you.