The latest Army recruitment campaign says “failing is a strength” in a bid to counter the “perfection” often presented on social media.
New adverts across TV, radio, online and social media will seek to show the positives of failure.
Falling short is not a reason to quit, the adverts say, but a way to “learn and grow in order to win when it really matters”.
The army says failure is often seen as a weakness in wider society, to be avoided at all costs. Many young people are “obsessed by projecting perfection through social media, exam results and material objects”.
Launching the new campaign, called ‘Fail, Learn, Win’ Lieutenant General Sir Tyrone Urch, the Commander of Home Command, said: “At its core it reminds us that in the Army we are proud to train to the point of failure, so we can learn and grow.
“That’s the way we nail it when it really matters. Aim too low and succeed? No thanks. We’re the British Army.”
Still image from one of the new army recruitment adverts, showing a soldier overcoming failure whilst on an exercise.
Polling by the MoD showed three quarters of young people feel held back by a fear of failure when taking on new challenges.
Interviews last November with over 1,000 people aged 16 to 25 revealed 83 per cent agreed failure is an important part of learning and growing.
Over half said a fear of judgement from other people was the main reason they were scared to fail.
Nick Terry of Capita, the firm employed to run the army campaign, said: “There can be a perception that there is no room for failure in an Army career, but we want to show that failure is embraced as a powerful learning tool with this year’s recruitment campaign.
“We hope the campaign will lead to potential applicants seeing the Army as a supportive place where they can fail, learn and win as part of a continually uplifting team to become the best version of themselves.”
In another advert for army recruitment we see a female soldier falling behind on a run, only to pick herself up and get back to the squad.
The campaign is the fifth iteration of the ‘This is Belonging’ series . Previous campaigns in the series have caused controversy by appealing to ‘snowflakes’ and ‘phone zombies’.
Last year’s campaign aimed to show how a career in the Army can build lifelong self-confidence, in contrast to “shallow hits that fade fast” from fashion purchases and social media ‘likes’.
New data show the controversial campaigns may have worked in meeting recruiting targets. Applications to join the Army are now at a five-year high.
The 2019/20 recruiting year target for regular soldiers ready to train and regular direct entry officers was met in its entirety. Reserves recruitment achieved 95 per cent of the annual target.
In one of the new adverts we see a soldier collapsing face down in the mud at night whilst on a patrol. ‘What’s our most powerful weapon?’ a voiceover asks. ‘Failure,’ we are told.
The man looks exhausted and we can hear other soldiers calling him on. He tries to stand but collapses again in the muddy water. The voiceover says: ‘Fail. Learn. Fail again.’
He is joined by a comrade and nods as the man explains something to him. He forces himself out of the mud and continues on his mission as we are told: ‘Learn more. And then win, when it really matters.’
A second film in the new series shows a female soldier falling behind her squad on a run. As she falls to the ground we are asked: ‘What’s the first step towards victory?’ The narrator tells us: ‘Failure’.
She seems to doubt herself and an instructor exhorts her: ‘Come on, keep going.’ The soldier gets to her feet and carries on running. ‘You fail, you learn, so you can win when it really matters,’ we are told, as the woman catches up with her squad.