The Army were facing a critical recruitment challenge. The traditional audience with a thirst for frontline action wasn’t big enough to fill the ranks, so we needed to motivate a broader group to make this life-changing decision. A new approach was needed to radically reposition Army life to a much wider pool of prospects.
Four years ago, we launched ‘This is Belonging’ – a powerful new brand platform showing an unexpected, human side to Army life that was completely new for the organisation. This long-term campaign successfully transformed perceptions and made the Army a place where more young people wanted to belong.
This year, with far higher targets and a constantly evolving Gen Z audience, we needed to find the Army’s current relevance to this generation in today’s culture and increase the impact of the Belonging platform.
How we helped
Further ethnographic research with our human insight team spending time with serving recruits and civilians revealed new insights. In today’s culture, superficial confidence promises surround Gen Z, offering quick hits from fast fashion and addictive boosts from social media. But they wanted more. While 89% thought confidence was important in life, 80% said lasting confidence was hard to find. In contrast, in depth soldier interviews uncovered a different kind of confidence built through belonging to an Army that believes in you: a real confidence that lasts.
The creative idea was to challenge this culture of quick-fix confidence hits, and show how belonging in the Army offers ‘Confidence That Lasts a Lifetime’.
What happened next
The campaign launched with provocative posters challenging the short-term promises of confidence, designed to spark conversation and earn media reach. The TV advert followed a soldier’s metaphorical journey to Army confidence, ignoring superficial confidence fixes in his path.
To land the idea in earned media and generate positive sentiment towards the idea, our PR team worked closely with the creative teams to ensure the launch posters would pique interest and gain earned reach. They then made sure the campaign caught the headlines with pre-launch media briefings, media sell-in and features with soldiers to tell an authentic story.
Social and LADbible content told deeper stories of Army confidence, and the idea was picked up by serving soldiers who made their own social content proving Army confidence in action. Digital display delivered tailored messaging targeted to 6 audience segments, addressing their individual rational barriers and drivers as candidates got closer to application. After applying, personalised dynamic videos engaged and inspired candidates through the lengthy process.
4 days after launch, the record was broken for the highest number of applications received in a single day. After a month, 141% of the Army’s application target was reached.
The campaign secured over 300 pieces of coverage, with a total earned reach of 1.9bn.
By March, the Army surpassed 100% of its annual recruiting target for soldiers, for the first time in 8 years.
The long term ‘This is Belonging’ platform and each campaign iteration have tackled deep Army stereotypes, inspired a new generation, and transformed the effectiveness of Army recruitment.
Testament to the campaign’s effectiveness, the work has won a prestigious IPA Gold Effectiveness award amongst a host of other creative accreditations. This is Belonging continues to go from strength to strength, helping more young people find where they belong in the British Army.
Annual recruitment target surpassed