2019’s Creative Campaigns #3 – The Army Needs YOU

2019 is just a few days underway, yet I’m finding myself writing about a new creative campaign every single day at the moment. Forget year of the Pig, it’s the year of reactive PR… Apparently.

Maybe there’s something in the air this year following Vitamin Water setting the standards very late on in 2018. But at the moment inventive and commemorable creativity seems to be at the forefront of all media and comms activity – and interesting and attention-grabbing campaigns are to be found far and wide.

The British army, not too famous for their PR projects in the past I must say (though the ‘made in the Royal Navy’ campaign was a goodun’), seem to have jumped on the bandwagon this year too. Introducing a surprising, if not slightly out-of-character recruitment campaign to kickstart the year’s affairs. That in question, of course, is the new series of posters set to be distributed to encourage the younger generation to join the army. Loved by some, despised by others – the campaign has been named ‘out of touch’ and ‘in bad taste’ by naysayers. But those who would support it applaud its creativity and support the arguably… inane tone from such a serious organisation. Where I sit on the fence, I’m not too sure, that’s why I recruited some help (as you’ll find out more about later on). But for the moment, let’s talk about the project and why it’s an exemplar of good PR.

As if ‘Millennials’ don’t hate the term ‘Millenials’ enough, they’re now apparently conceited and haughty too.

Your army needs… Snowflakes, gamers and millennials?

It takes no genius to know and recognise that the army is infamous for recruiting tough and rugged individuals. So why, all of a sudden, are they asking for the ‘snowflakes’ of the world to enrol? A sardonic term which here is used by some in the modern day to describe those who speak out about things which offend them. It’s often used to describe individuals who’re openly troubled by things which aren’t always seen as ‘big’ issues; and it’s fast become probably the most used word in Piers Morgan’s vocabulary.

“It IS 2018″ has widely become the supporting comment for many issues that arise on social media and beyond.

Amid this term – which has fast become the most focal point of the conversation about this campaign – other common colloquial terms have been used such as ‘me me me Millenials’ and ‘phone zombies’. What follows these nicknames is the iconic ‘your army needs YOU’ slogan and then a short explanation as to why. Said ‘snowflakes,’ for example, are needed for their compassion, ‘selfie addicts’ for their confidence, and so on. Interesting for sure, yet I’m still not entirely sure what I think of it all.

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I’m not sure just how much I’d pin the types of people referred to as ‘snowflakes’ to an army role, but go figure.

What is commendable though, as with all of my ‘creative campaigns of 2019’ so far, is the sheer publicity this recruitment stunt has generated already. Most army recruitment efforts are seldom covered on the TV, with the exception of paid-for advertisements, nor the printed press. This campaign though, and its unapologetic yet undeniably creative motif, first caught my attention on BBC News a few nights ago, and is now being talked about in every top publication nationwide. Unbiased articles have nevertheless resulted in conflicting opinions, and inevitably a great portion of the country is talking about the army and their efforts.

And though not all publicity is always good publicity, when you’ve kickstarted a conversation as wide as this one, your organisation is still the name in peoples mouths – and in this case, it’s the army’s jobs department. And though this might not have been their initial attention (to generate a stir from a controversial campaign) they’ve certainly been bold and daring in their efforts, and it has – in one way or another – paid off for them. Advertising works so long as your brand is visible and is held in the public attention, so on paper, this stunt is definitely working. Nobody can deny that.

My PR persona is giving this one the big thumbs up.

Agree with the content or not, the objective to raise awareness has been met, and nobody can disregard the campaign for that. But what about morality? Well, while I’m not about to spark a debate – I did think it would be a good idea to include some opinions and thoughts here too. Why not, eh?

In bad taste? I need YOU to decide

I’m on the fence with this campaign and whether I think it’s in good taste or not, so I enlisted the help of some of my Twitter followers to find out what THEY thought. And, as I expected, there’s no one clear viewpoint. Some don’t agree with the campaign, and that’s fine. And some do, which is fine too.

Though an unbiased article on my front, I did want to include some thoughts of my followers in here, too. I wanted to hear, and to share why some think this campaign is great and why others think the opposite. I may have opened a can of worms here, but here goes anyway.

Here’s what social media had to say…

The ‘thumbs ups’

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The ‘thumbs down’

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Though the chosen terms that were chosen have generated much more popularity, one does have to question whether the target demographic could have been better addressed.

And the other opinions worth including.

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Good point from Daniel, here.. I think something that’s really overlooked in the media is how ‘millennials’ is often used as an umbrella term for the younger generation. BUT, the age groups covered here are so vast you cannot pin them to a stereotype. Somebody aged 22 is likely to have a completely different mindset to somebody aged 38, so can we make 2019 the year that we get rid of this term for good?

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Yup, the board is STILL open

Genuinely great opinions all round, there. And each one validated in its own right.

Whether you agree with the tone of the campaign or not, you cannot deny its effectiveness as a PR campaign. Though the conversation is not always necessarily positive, it’s still there. And as long as these advertisements are spoken about – they’ll be in the minds of the people they aim to target. This is how effective advertising and public relations works in one sense, so for that – the Army has been wholeheartedly successful in its efforts.

What do you think about the army’s recruitment efforts this year? Ingenious campaign or a distasteful effort? Let me know in the comments below because I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Who knows – I might even let you know my opinion at some point.

Thank you to everybody who contributed, and I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts. Whether I agreed with your points or not doesn’t matter – as we have on our hands a matter of personal opinion, and I’m so thankful you’d share yours with me.

P.s. – Thank You!

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I’m not quite done yet either. I just wanted to say a big, no a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who voted for me in the UK Blog awards for best PR, Marketing & Communication blog. I’m really super pleased to say I am now an official finalist. If it wasn’t for the people who read my blog and support me every day, I almost certainly wouldn’t bother. So for that, endless gratitude is in order. Thank you.

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PR and lifestyle blogger jessica pardoe

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