UK army recruitment bid targeting working-class youth: Report

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The British army’s new flashy recruitment campaign is specifically aimed at luring in young people from working class families despite claiming to target people from all socio-economic backgrounds, a report has revealed.

Dubbed “This Is Belonging,” the campaign is seeking to appeal to a key audience of 16- to 24-year-old “C2DEs” – the marketing term used to describe the lowest three social and economic groups within the British society, The Guardian reported Sunday, citing one of the campaign’s briefing papers.

Under “target audience,” officials pinpoint in the brief that they are looking for people within the ages of “16-24, primarily C2DE. Mean household income 10K. High index for social, mobile, cinema. Not heavy TV viewers. Interested in sports and spending time with friends.”

Obtained by the charity Child Soldiers International, the document even notes that while the campaign is supposed to be nationwide, northern England cities like Manchester and Sheffield as well as Birmingham, Belfast and Cardiff have “up-weights” to them and need more focus.

“What’s very clear from the document is that the army is deliberately and strategically targeting young people from deprived backgrounds who have limited options in life,” said Rachel Taylor, the charity’s director of programs.

“It’s not about presenting the military as one of many options. It’s about exploiting people who don’t have a lot else going for them and taking advantage of that lack of opportunity to fill the ranks usually for the most dangerous and badly paid roles,” she added.

She said the army was intentionally concentrating on northern cities because they have “the most economically deprived areas with low employment.”

The campaign was launched earlier this year and features professionally produced 30-second commercials showing young soldiers in various fictional training and combat situations. The films are spread via social media, television and cinema.

According to Karmarama, the advertising company behind the clips, This Is Belonging has resulted in “a dramatic, double-digit increase in completed applications year on year.”

The British defense ministry has rejected criticisms of the campaign, insisting that it does not target poor people.

“This is a national recruitment campaign designed to reach a broad audience, which is helping our armed forces fully represent the people they help to keep safe,” said a spokesperson.

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