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Army History

What Made You Join Up? Army Recruitment Through The Ages

The British Army has produced a series of recruitment adverts over the years, but what made you join up?

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The British Army has produced a series of recruitment adverts over the years.

In January 2019, the service released its latest campaign comprised of video, radio and poster adverts.

Called 'Your Army Needs You', it has been designed to show the Army looks beyond young stereotypes and "sees people differently" and recognises their "need for a bigger sense of purpose", according to British Army Major General Paul Nanson.

The campaign also features Kitchener-style illustrations of soldiers with stereotype labels which will be featured as billboards and outdoor advertising around the UK.

Based on the historic Your Country Needs You First World War poster featuring the stern-eyed British field marshal, the new billboards call out to "Me Me Me Millennials", "Class Clowns", "Binge Gamers", "Phone Zombies", "Snow Flakes", "Selfie Addicts" and say the army needs their potential and assets. These are named as their self-belief, spirit, drive, focus, compassion and confidence.

Last year's £1.6 million campaign featured a series of adverts, all voiced by serving soldiers, with questions being asked such as "What if I get emotional?" and "Can I be gay in the army?".

One of the adverts shows a Muslim soldier explaining how the Army has helped him to continue to practice his faith.

However, past adverts have focused on different aspects of military life such as the sense of achievement that comes with serving, or the ability to travel.

In 1992, the Army released the well-known Frank advert, featuring an imaginary soldier of that name travelling around the world having the time of his life, while his friends sit at home bored. 

The advert itself reached such prominence it was parodied in Private Eye magazine, as well as the TV show Spitting Image.

This harrowing advert from 1998 shows soldiers liberating a town at night and coming to the aid of victims of an unnamed war.

It was aimed at recruiting female soldiers, who might be able to better aid female victims of war.

This much longer film from the 1970s provides a worldwide tour of the British Armed Forces, introducing recruits to the Gurkhas and the forces in Germany.

The advert directly calls for "intelligent men" and highlights ongoing conflicts such as the Troubles in Northern Island.

This controversial advert from 2009 made Army recruiting into an interactive experience, where players could decide how to act in a high-alert situation online.

The ad proved controversial as some accused the Army of turning war into a video game. 

These adverts from 2006 for the air assault and light infantry forces feature a narrator highlighting the different locations a recruit could travel to.

They feature a series of slick cuts, including soldiers parachuting into a club on a Friday night. 

In 2016 the Army released a series of advert employing reverse psychology.

Under the theme 'Don't Join The Army', the adverts came under criticism for being ineffective.