It is no secret that, in a perilous and febrile world, Britain’s armed forces, engaged fully in Afghanistan and to a lesser extent in Libya, are stretched to the limit.
Nor is it any secret that Britain’s public finances are in bad way and that, in the effort to cut costs, no stone is unturned.
So it was to no-one’s great surprise – although viewed with regret and shame by many – that Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced in early September that it was making some 1800 Army and Air Force personnel redundant with immediate effect.
All this comes against a background of a combined total of 12,000 planned redundancies in the armed forces over the next five years.
So why, in a typically cack-handed way, would the MoD announce just two weeks later that it was looking for agencies to handle a forthcoming armed forces recruitment campaign across all three services?
Er, wouldn’t it be simpler not to make the redundancies?
But life is always complicated. As it makes full-time military personnel redundant, the MoD is replacing them with part-time or volunteer personnel (ie ones who cost a lot less than full-time military). It is this cohort that any new advertising campaign will be aimed at.
As usual, the agencies won’t care about the politics of this. They love doing ads for the armed forces (lots of opportunity to play with expensive military hardware) and it shows: there is a long tradition of great recruitment advertising for the military, especially in the 1990s. So they will welcome the chance to show their talents in this area.
But good luck to anyone who has to explain the campaign to a mystified and hostile public and media.
Bonkers Britain….part two
As I wrote a few weeks ago, no British politician ever lost votes by attacking the advertising industry as a purveyor of consumerism/unhealthy products/evil/filth that poisons young minds/etc (take your choice) to the unsuspecting populace.
Even so, few anticipated that this might go as far as banning ads targeting the under-16s. But that is a proposal put forward by PM Cameron’s strategy team, as part of a wider move to find ways to appeal to female voters.
It is these Mums who are often most vocal in denouncing advertising, although they are themselves huge consumers of it (just look in their fridges and you will see them rammed with heavily-advertised goods).
But no-one seems to have any idea how such a ban might work and what happens to ads targeting 17-year-olds; or that it would affect hundreds of hours per week of children’s TV programming (all funded by ads); or the community sports activities funded by advertisers; or the TVCs for healthy life- and eating regimes co-funded by advertisers; or the fast-food they buy to keep their children happy. And so on. Bonkers idea.
A theatrical gin
A stage curtain is not a promising media space – just a large bit of fraying cloth really: very old-tech.
But Gordon’s Gin has cunningly booked a pre-show slot in 26 London theatres. What can you do with a curtain? Well, Gordon’s is effectively throwing a moving, 2-dimensional light show, on to the curtain.
It’s not exactly state of the art, but it’s rather charming in an old-tech way. And it’s highly relevant given the propensity of theatre-goers to grab a quick g&t during the interval – assuming they can beat the crush at the bar.
Dominic Mills is editorial director of Haymarket Business Media, Publishers of Campaign India