—In a special bonus edition of The Redmond Review, Craig Redmond explains why he’s so impressed with the British Army’s recruitment advertising—
I’m a pacifist. I’m also a coward. And most of all, I really hate anything that involves heavy lifting.
So, the last thing I would have ever considered would have been being recruited for a life in the military. But as an ad geek, I’ve always been fascinated by its recruitment advertising. Because I can’t think of a more paralyzingly daunting task for a strategist or a creative person.
Hi. Um, wondering if you’d like to join us. On the upside, you get up at ungodly hours, wear unflattering outfits, eat bad food and get paid poorly. On the flip-side, you may have to die or get maimed and disfigured for your country. Fancy a look at our brochure?
The British Army often used the hard-nosed tactic of provocation. For instance, when unemployment numbers were rocketing in the early 90’s, it bought commercial airtime at 4 a.m. and challenged young guys watching the telly all night to get off the couch, off the dole, and to join the Army. “You’re up anyway,” it reasoned.
But in 2018, the Army introduced a new approach that was all about inclusion and dispelling the myth that the military was just a repository for white jarheads and bigots. It included a spot that courageously stared down the Islamophobia that was consuming the country, serving up its rebuke in a stunningly beautiful display of silent deference.
In 2019, it pushed back at the tired cliché that millennials are all undependable and emotionally bereft with a touching moment depicting a young infantryman comforting his seasoned officer.
And now, it is tackling perhaps one of the most insidious prejudices and obstacles to recruitment. And one we’ve witnessed reaching unimaginable levels of toxicity in our own Canadian military: Gender inequality.
It is smart, insightful work that deconstructs the typical, rah-rah bullshit enlistment narrative, and according to its agency creators Karmarama, has netted the Army its highest recruitment numbers in a decade and the biggest single day of applications for the Army in its history, a week after the 2020 work launched.
But as much as I admire the “This is Belonging” work, would it have convinced a young Craig to join up back in the day? Not likely. Still seems like a lot of heavy lifting going on.
Craig Redmond is a Creative Leader with Palmer Stamnes and Co, an independent family of marketing communication companies.