Magazine article Marketing
Profile: Fighting on the Home Front - Mark Bainbridge, Marketing and Communications Director, British Army
As the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion comes and goes, Mark Bainbridge, marketing and communications director of the British Army, has the unenviable task of persuading youngsters that a life in the services is for them.
The latest campaign, which launched last week, seeks to do this by highlighting the positive effects of military intervention and encourages the British public to air their support for the troops through a social networking website.
Not surprisingly, given the Iraq War's unpopularity, the activity has provoked criticism from some who claim that taxpayers' money is being used to vindicate military action. However, Bainbridge brushes such comments aside, saying the stance is 'totally justified and an absolutely appropriate use of spend'. 'It is not about trying to justify military intervention. It is about getting across that the Army is about more than combat on the front line,' he says.
It is clear that Bainbridge considers himself to be ensconced in his own private battle with the British press. Army econometric research shows that 27% of its pounds 36m adspend goes to balance out the effects of negative media coverage, so with the task of attracting 23,000 recruits a year, he is bullish about the job in hand. 'If we do nothing, the recruitment conditions are going to get harder and worse.'
Bainbridge has the air of an Army man about him, but he is the first civilian to hold its marketing director role. The 44-year-old lives an idyllic life in the Cotswolds village of Kemble, with his wife and two daughters, aged eight and five, in a cottage styled like a French hunting lodge. His noisy dog is female, too, and Bainbridge, who has three brothers, is now resigned to being 'brow-beaten' by the women in his house.
Bainbridge lives the life of the country gentleman in his spare time. Apart from a very urban predilection for Facebook, his hobbies include walking and fly-fishing; he also used to sit on the parish council before finding that he could not devote enough time to it. It is surprising, therefore, to learn that Bainbridge originally hails from Barnet in North London. 'I am a born-again country man,' he chuckles, adding that it takes almost the same amount of time to get to central London from Barnet as it does from his home in Gloucestershire. …