British army advertising targets teens on GCSE results day


In 2018, the British army used paid Facebook messages to target 16-year-olds around the day GCSE results were announced to suggest that an army career might still be open to them if their grades were sub-par. The move was criticised for targeting teenagers at their most vulnerable and stressed moment in order to fill the army roles that require are least popular and hardest to recruit. The answer to a written parliamentary question revealed that the army spent £1.7 million advertising on social media, mostly Facebook, between 2015 and 2017. Leaked briefing documents have made it clear that the army particularly targets the three lowest social and economic groups ("C2DEs"), particularly in northern English cities. British soldiers may not be sent to war zones until they are 18, but Child Soldiers International claims that the youngest recruits have higher rates of mental health and behavioural problems and receive a lower standard of education than their older and civilian peers. The army argued that the ads are targeted at the time in people's lives when they make career decisions.

writer: Steven Morris
Publication: Guardian

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