The British army has been criticised for explicitly targeting young people from poor, working class backgrounds in its latest recruitment advertising campaign.
Child Soldiers International, a charity that aims to prevent children from being recruited into the military, said the army’s ‘This is Belonging’ campaign disproportionately targets young people from working class backgrounds with limited opportunities.
Isabelle Guitard, director of programmes at Child Soldiers International, told the Guardian that a briefing document to the advertising agency shows the campaign was aimed at “adrenaline-seeking” teenagers who were easily influenced by other people.
The document suggests that the advertisements should be aimed at 16-24 year olds in the ‘C2DE’ categories – the three lowest socio-economic categories in the UK. It also states that they are primarily aimed at potential army recruits in Glasgow, Newcastle, Peterborough, Doncaster, Liverpool, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Nottingham – the army’s “top performing” locations for applicants.
“The army’s focus on areas where employment opportunities are limited reflects not only a desperate need to fill a recruitment shortfall but a cynical exploitation of the shortage of adequate career and training choices for all young people in society,” said Guitard.
The organisation also criticised the army for targeting advertisements at young people around the time they received their GCSE results. It claimed it used social media to target stressed teenagers on and around results day to “unwittingly” encourage them to join the army if they were disappointed with their exam results.
Col Ben Wilde, assistant director of army recruiting, said: “Joining the army gives young people the opportunity for a great career, with the benefit of gaining skills and qualifications through world-leading training, as well as finding a sense of belonging.
“This recruitment campaign is targeted at anyone who meets our high standards, regardless of their background or where they live, and seeks to illustrate the opportunities we are proud to offer.”