The Army follows up record recruitment with ‘Nightingale’ campaign

The Army is shining a light on the role it has played supporting the NHS during the coronavirus crisis as it looks to show the relevance of a military career.

The Army is launching a new campaign that shines a light on the role it has played supporting the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic, as it looks to show the breadth and relevance of an army career.

The ad, created by Karmarama, starts out in 1854 when Florence Nightingale was tending soldiers during the Crimean War. It then shows how the Army is “repaying that favour” by helping to plan and build the Nightingale hospitals in response to coronavirus.

The Army has played a key role in the UK’s Covid-19 response, from delivering PPE to the NHS to running mobile testing centres. However, research conducted by the organisation found that just 39% of its target audience knew about this work.

“For many, they don’t know of the longstanding relationship the Army has had with nursing throughout history. Hence we wanted to create this animated film,” Nick Terry, CMO of the recruiting group at Capita, which is responsible for Army recruitment, tells Marketing Week.

Helping people understand the breadth of roles on offer in the Army is also key. While recruiting for combat roles remains important, there are many other roles on offer, such as planning, logistics and construction. The Army also hopes this new campaign will show that protecting the nation does not just involving fighting, but humanitarian work as well.

“We saw that young people – and others – are taking this opportunity to re-evaluate their lives and what they would like to achieve. Many are saying they have a greater desire to make a difference and do a job that matters. And this is what the Army does and what it can offer as a career,” explains Terry.

“What you can say with some certainty is this will not be the last crisis we face, and soldiers will be needed for the future to conduct all the roles the Army plays in protecting the nation both at home and abroad.”

Hitting recruitment targets

A key objective of the campaign is to raise awareness of the fact the Army is still recruiting, hence the ad has the end line ‘Recruiting now and always’. Having its target audience understand the role the Army is playing in supporting the NHS is also key, as is driving consideration of a career in the Army and an increase in applications.

The Army and Capita are making progress in this area. After missing its annual recruiting target for soldiers every year since Capita was appointed, in the 12 months to the end of March it surpassed its target for the first time in eight years. This is not just down to the campaign, but after the launch of its ‘Army Confidence Lasts a Lifetime’ ad in January the record was broken for the highest number of applications in a single day.

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“We think we have all the components in place,” says Terry. “The campaign is one element of that, but significant effort is around making sure the experience and process works for candidates that are interested in joining and making the process of joining as quick and easy as possible.”

Coronavirus has pushed much of that process online over the past few months. Physical recruitment events have been paused and instead the Army is, for example, holding virtual open days, including one at its foundation college in Harrogate that has more than 500 candidates coming – more than would attend a physical event.

“We have tried to move as much of that online and deliver it virtually as we can. Whether that’s as effective time will tell, but it is something we are monitoring very carefully and trying to measure that experience as we go,” says Terry.

“We are trying to come up with the optimal blend of physical and virtual, as most businesses are.”

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