Take a closer look at the Royal Navy recruitment advert the next you get a minute. Pay closer attention to the emotive music and imagery and then listen to the message you’re being sold…
“Chase it down!”
“Cut the rope!”
“Get stuck in!”
“Turn ‘him’ into him”
“Learning things my teacher’s couldn’t teach”
“Reaching heights I’d never thought I’d reach”
“I’m part of a crew now, NEVER alone!”
“From nowhere to everywhere!”
“I left a small town and turned it around”
“I was born in Blythe but I was made in the Royal Navy”
See that angry young teenager who’s sick and tired of working at the local butchers shop and looks, longingly, out over the ocean searching for new horizons. Notice then how it uses images of guns, war ships, choppers, open-top jeeps racing over sunlit sandy beaches and exotic locations that look like holiday resorts to entice him in. Notice also how all the people in the advert are all white and almost all male. Then there’s the money shot, right at the end, where this young lad comes home and gets a big hug from his proud nanna who has a big beaming smile on her face.
They know their target audience – young, working class, disenfranchised white boys. Lad’s who will never get the opportunities in life that Boris Johnson’s brood or Jacob Rees-Mogg’s litter will get (their children will never work in a meat factory or sit behind a cashiers till). For working class kids, jobs are scarce, often poorly paid and typically short term. Education typically ends when they leave school because they simply can’t afford to stay in education, which further limits their job prospects. Yet the advert promises to teach these kids things their teachers couldn’t teach – I dare say they won’t be teaching them anything that could improve their job prospects when they get back from their ‘navy adventures’. Perhaps the most sinister part of the messaging is when they tell these kids that they are nothing! They’re literally telling these kids that they come “from nowhere” and that they are “alone” and belong to nothing unless they become “part of a crew”. Their family links, the friends they grew up with, the community they belong to are all nothing, worthless and lack meaning.
Of course, what this advert wont tell you is the truth. They won’t tell these kids how this government abandon’s military veterans when they’ve ceased to be of use, many of whom end up sleeping rough on the streets. It wont mention the PTSD, the suicidal thoughts and other psychological issues they have to deal with when they return. It wont tell them that they could get injured, lose or limb (or limbs), or their eyesight or that they could even die. It won’t tell them how it feels to watch a close friend get seriously injured or killed and it won’t tell them that when they get back they will struggle to find work and fit in.
I watched the advert on the Sky news channel today and just as it ended, up popped another shocking advert. This one was from Hatton’s of London, promoting their “Dunkirk Quarter Sovereign” to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Dunkirk. The new coin, they proudly announce, has been sand-blasted using sand from beaches of Dunkirk and is available for just £99 plus £4.99 P&P. I can’t imagine anything more disrespectful than to use sand from the beaches where thousands of young men bled to death, a coin that they will sell for a profit. Apparently, 10% of that profit goes towards the Armed Forces charity, but they still retain 90% of the profits.