Why the Army’s marketing fails to connect with millennials.

“Your country needs you”, “I want you for U.S. Army”; advertising so iconic and timeless that the posters are probably vivid in your thoughts.

There’s a million reasons why they were so effective, but one is undeniable; it’s inclusive. There’s no explanation of why the Army needs you – that’s for you to decide – but by simply speaking directly to audiences the Army makes us feel like heroes.

I mention this because it explains why the Army’s recent recruitment advertising is so flawed.

It’s no secret that the Army have been sinking money into recruitment with lesser results than ever before. Yes, the adverts are bigger and glossier, but the messages portrayed are flawed.

Their “Made in the Royal Navy” TV advert tells a story of someone becoming a bartender, and then suddenly finding purpose by joining the Royal Navy. The advert is almost emasculating in tone, making out the person was a loser (because of his career) until he joined.

The message is no longer “we need you”, the message is “you need us”; and it’s falling on deaf ears.

Their Twitter ads speak directly to millennials, using name-calling as a tactic to engage with audiences. “Phone Zombies”, “Snowflakes”, “Me Me Me Millennials”; it’s rude in tone.

Yes, the adverts say the Army needs me, but they make sure they insult me beforehand. This would be like spitting in a stranger’s face, and then offering to buy them a drink.

I honestly have no idea why they believed these adverts would work.

With both of these advertising campaigns, it appears their approach is to crush audiences before picking them up.

Does the Royal Navy only want people who have fallen on hard times, or should they be telling a different narrative that also targets more successful demographics? And is it effective for the Army to be targeting people who (according to the stereotypes they are promoting) do not work well in teams?

The only adverts that seem worthwhile are the Royal Marines’.

Instead of assuming what you currently are (which the Army and Royal Navy ads do), the Royal Marines show what you can become. They show highly-skilled soldiers, powerful weaponry, and loud vehicles; it’s inspiring, rather than emasculating.

Most importantly, it’s inclusive. “You can be more than you ever thought possible”; almost reminiscent of those iconic WWI posters.

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