Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: On the Front Line

Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: On the Front Line

Article excerpt

The army must tackle a wealth of negative perceptions as it rethinks its recruitment strategy.

The unpopular conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus a spate of negative media coverage of soldiers' poor living conditions and funding shortages, have made recruiting for the Army a difficult job.

As revealed by Marketing last week, the Army has embarked on a Recruiting Partnering Project (RPP), an initiative involving every part of the recruitment process in a bid to boost its ranks and enhance the quality of personnel across all posts.

Representatives from sectors including advertising, marketing, IT, publishing, training and education were among 120 attendees at a recent away-day. On the marketing side, both roster and non-roster agencies were invited.

While the project is currently being run solely by the Army, the Royal Air Force and the Navy are also considering a similar approach.

Colonel Paul Farrar, the second in command of the Army's recruitment, says the RPP will 'look at all the options', but cannot confirm how the project will affect incumbent agencies such as Publicis, Haymarket Network and Tequila\London.

'I honestly don't know where we will end up,' he admits. 'We will shake up the paradigm and see what comes out, but agencies that have worked with us before are going to be well placed to understand our future requirements.'

As a caveat, Farrar adds: 'We've got a taut machine already, but equally our suppliers have got to know that we are looking at better ways of doing things.'

One source claims that the rethink could result in more work for some of the Army's existing agencies as it seeks to outsource a greater proportion of the activity currently handled internally and consolidate it within its roster. The source describes the strategy as being mainly a 'cost-cutting' exercise.

There may be an element of truth in this. Although Farrar denies that the project is about cost-cutting, he highlights 'maximising spend' as one of RPP's aims. The Army has already taken steps in this direction; in April, it launched One Army Recruiting, which merged the recruitment operations of the Territorial and regular Army.

Ministry of Defence statistics reveal the reasons behind the Army's decision to undergo a root-and-branch review of its recruitment process. The figures appear to suggest that despite a recent increase in recruits, over the long term the number of people signing up is falling, while more personnel are leaving. According to the latest data, the Army has 98,160 full-time, fully trained members, a decline of 1410 on last year and in keeping with a general downward slide - in April 2004, Army personnel stood at 103,560. …

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