New report calls for regulation of military marketing that targets young people

A report published today (27 February 2019) critiques the armed forces’ marketing practice in selling their careers to vulnerable adolescents. This comes in the wake of the Army’s controversial new ‘Snowflake’ recruiting campaign.

Selling the military: A critical analysis of contemporary recruitment marketing in the UK will be launched at an event this evening with Dr Guddi Singh – a paediatric doctor and presenter of a recent TV programme on BBC2 ‘Babies: Their Wonderful World’ – and Rhiannon Spear who, as a young member of the SNP, has campaigned for the age of military recruitment to be raised in the UK.

The report explores how military marketing campaigns exploit developmental vulnerabilities in adolescents and young people, particularly in those that are impacted by social inequality. [3]

It details how the emphasis put on camaraderie and self-development in the British Army’s ‘This is Belonging’ campaign and other recent recruitment advertising misrepresents and masks some of the harder realities of military life. The campaigns also serve to depoliticise the military’s image and promote self-fulfilment in the context of conflict.

The report calls for military marketing campaigns to be evaluated and regulated in line with recent developments in medical understanding of adolescent psychologies, how young people are more vulnerable to sophisticated marketing techniques, and in the context of recent research on the risks associated with military recruitment for young recruits in particular.

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Adverse health effects of recruiting child soldiers

This editorial in BMJ Paediatrics Open (2019, vol 3, issue 1) discusses the issues raised in the Medact report, The recruitment of children by the UK Armed Forces: a critique from health professionals, which brought together evidence highlighting the increased risk of death and injury for those recruited under the age of 18. It revealed the long-term impacts of the British military’s recruitment of children under the age of 18, presented evidence linking ‘serious health concerns’ with the policy and called for a rise in the minimum recruitment age.

The authors, Reem Abu-Hayyeh and Guddi Singh, contributed to the content and launch of the report Selling the military: A critical analysis of contemporary recruitment marketing in the UK by ForcesWatch and Medact.… Read more