Army 'snowflake' ads accused of targeting millennials with the January blues

Keiligh Baker's picture

British Army adverts aimed at "me me me millennials" which prompted the highest recruitment rates in seven years have been accused of cynically targeting young people with the January blues.

Launched right at the beginning of the year, the army's advertising campaign was titled 'Your army needs you', and saw younger servicemen and women posing with slogans riffing on generally negative stereotypes aimed at the younger generation.

"Phone zombies" had focus, "millennials" had self-belief, "binge gamers" had drive, and "snowflakes" had compassion, all traits which the Army said they wanted in recruits.

Following the campaign release Q1 2019 is on track to see the highest rates of applications since the British Army outsourced their recruitment activity to Capita seven years ago.

Compared with the same period in 2018, figures show there will be at least 1,000 more sign-ups.

In January, website visits were up 78%, with 1.5 million people visiting the British Army website. In fact, the day the 'Your army needs you' posters were launched, the website received the highest number of registrations in 12 months.

But now, a briefing document seen by the Guardian shows that strategists behind the “Your army needs you” campaign factored in that it would be seen by young people at a time when they were experiencing the “January blues”.

Charlotte Cooper, UK research and campaign officer at Child Soldiers International, said: “This advertising campaign’s targeting of young audiences feeling the ‘January blues’ is another example of how the army tries to exploit young people’s emotional vulnerability to drive recruitment, instead of encouraging a fully informed, mature and rational decision over a potentially life-changing commitment.

“The snowflake campaign tried to present a new side to the army, but this advertising brief shows the same old story: young people with the fewest options being mis-sold a one-sided view of military life as the magic ticket to a better life.”