A new advertising campaign from the British Army is raising eyebrows with its unconventional attempt to reach out to a younger generation. BBC News reports that the army's latest recruitment posters utilize what are largely considered to be disparaging terms when describing their desired potential enrollees.
"Me me me millennials," one poster copying the famous "Your country needs you" posters from World War 1 reads. "Your army needs you and your self-belief."
Other ads say the army needs "Snowflakes" for their compassion, "Selfie Addicts" for their confidence, and "Binge Gamers" for their drive. Other names include "Class Clowns" and "Phone Zombies." It's a clever twist to gain attention, at a time when the British Army is struggling to recruit new soldiers. But as you'd expect, some of those younger millennials targeted by the advertising aren't overly impressed by what they see as backhanded compliments.
"Poor people: the army needs you and your economic vulnerability!" one Twitter user joked.
"Not sure why the British Army thinks insulting young people is a good recruitment tactic," Sarah Hayward, the former leader of Camden Council, tweeted. "What an awful campaign."There's also an older contingent who didn't like the idea of a British Army that celebrated what they consider to be serious flaws in youth culture.
"Something desperate about this, flattering millennials about their 'compassion' and 'self-belief,'" Peter Whittle, former Deputy Leader of the UK Independence Party, wrote. "The compassion is mostly virtue-signalling, the self-belief more like self-absorption. Surely the last things you want or need in an army."
"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," Major General Paul Nanson said in a statement upon the campaign's release (via NPR). "We understand the drive they have to succeed and recognize their need for a bigger sense of purpose in a job where they can do something meaningful."
The U.K. currently sits fifth in the world for defense budgets, with only United States, China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia outspending them. According to the BBC, the British Army consisted of 78,407 full-time troops as of April 2017 and are currently deployed in over a dozen countries, seeing combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Africa. Despite those numbers, the Telegraph reports only one army soldier has been killed in the past two years, and just 64 have died while in service since 2003.