Are you a “binge gamer”?
An unfocused office prankster?
A “me me me millennial”?
If so, the British army wants to recruit you.
It’s all part of a new advertising campaign unveiled by the U.K. Defense Ministry aimed at 16- to 25-year-olds “looking for a job with purpose,” according to a statement.
In videos, radio spots and posters, the advertisements take negative stereotypes about Generation Z — and their predecessors, the notorious millennials — and rebrand them as strengths. Self-centeredness becomes “self-belief,” phone obsession becomes “focus” and selfies become “confidence.”
“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 Gen. Paul Nanson said in the statement. “We understand the drive they have to succeed and recognise their need for a bigger sense of purpose in a job where they can do something meaningful.”
U.K. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson called the campaign a “powerful call to action.”
A London official had different qualms about the recruitment strategy, suggesting that the stereotypes about young Brits were both true and hardly the qualities that should be sought out in potential soldiers.
The British army is understaffed by several thousand troops, according to news reports citing figures released in October. Soldiers are currently deployed to more than a dozen countries around the globe.
The new ads are part of a multiyear, $600 million-plus campaign to bring in fresh recruits that began in 2012. However, the company in charge of that effort, Capita, has failed to meet hiring targets every year since then, according to the U.K.’s National Audit Office.
The ads feature a racially and gender-diverse cast of young Brits (men and women can apply for any British military job, according to the army) and are inspired by iconic red-and-black recruitment posters from World War I. A previous campaign faced criticism after an investigation by The Guardian revealed it had targeted working-class youth in gyms, pubs and movie theaters. At 16, the U.K. reportedly has the lowest enlistment age of any European country.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army is also trying to fill a recruitment gap. The New York Times reports the military is planning to jump-start hiring efforts in politically liberal cities. On social media, the Army touts college scholarships and career opportunities for recruits and even hints at a more primal attraction: You might get to blow things up.