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'Hipster hostile' Swedish military ads stir debate

The Local · 8 Feb 2013, 07:56

Published: 08 Feb 2013 07:56 GMT+01:00

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Entitled "Vad håller du på med?" ('What are you doing?'), the military recruitment ads began running in mid-January in a series of broadcast spots and billboards.

The series of advertisements shows young Swedes carrying out activities that are seemingly pointless.

A young man in a student residence hall blows up a condom and manages to squeeze his head and half his torso into the huge bubble.

In another ad, a woman stands on a kitchen chair, engaged in a prolonged and focused effort to find the best angle from which to photograph her breakfast with her mobile phone.

The recruitment page on the Armed Forces website also contains a link guiding would-be recruits to the areas within the army and navy which are need of personnel.

But the ads, meant to help the military address a shortage of new voluntary recruits after mandatory conscription was abandoned in 2010, have drawn criticism from various quarters.

The cultural pages of several influential Swedish newspapers were quick to dub them "an attack on hipster culture," while one writer said it painted a negative picture of modern life.

Dagens Nyheter (DN) music correspondent Fredrik Strage was one of the writers who thought the campaign insulted cultural activities.

Yet on Friday, the same newspaper's editorial writer Erik Helmersson defended the Armed Forces.

"I think you have to have an extremely tolerant notion of what constitutes culture if you include Instagramming your breakfast or taping yourself to a wall," he wrote.

Story continues below…

Helmersson also wrote that throughout much of the 1970s "military equals death equals bad"-thinking still survived in Sweden.

"Is it wrong to say that it is more important to help a food aide convoy reach its destination in a war zone than photographing your own food at home?" he asked.

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Your comments about this article

08:32 February 8, 2013 by ljtaylor88
I like these adverts, they make me chuckle. I think we had a similar campaign in the UK for the TA, but less blunt, just saying something along the lines of "x percent of people spend their free time surfing the Internet, what are you doing"?
08:41 February 8, 2013 by isenhand
Its impressive, really, just when I thought the defences advertising couldn't get any more stupid, it does!

Försvarsmakten seams to have a history of not knowing what they are doing when it comes to advertising and recruiting (this is just one of a long line of stupid adverts). Its no surprise they fail to make their targets in recruitment.

Recruitment in Sweden for the military is going to be an up hill struggle but there are standard ways to go about it which Försvarsmakten appears to ignore. They seriously need to get out and talk to people!!!
08:47 February 8, 2013 by space2
I also like the ads! I think it's very creative and starts you think ... well, at least it should start you think. Nowadays there are two many people/movies/etc who say that it's ok if you don't have any goals in life, it's ok to just do nothing (or worse, it's ok to do crazy/insane stuff).
16:39 February 8, 2013 by skogsbo
I think it's good, the sort of people who think these are rubbish, are not the types of people the military wants or needs. So it achieves it's goals in more than one way, by vetting out the moaners and do-gooders in society, before they even consider a military career.

The military needs people who think a bit differently and aren't as tied to the modern world.
22:54 February 8, 2013 by theobserver
"The series of advertisements shows young Swedes carrying out activities that are seemingly pointless."

Must be university students. Spoon-fed babies who will graduate having learnt nothing. Four years for carrying out pointless activities is enough to get you through the Swedish university system.
08:38 February 9, 2013 by rise
Bah! Reinsert the conscription already and force people into national and military service. Because the matter of defending your country is not a choice of yours to make - it is your bloody duty!
08:42 February 9, 2013 by Marc the Texan
I think they're funny. Great ads.
11:35 February 10, 2013 by kaa977
would be interesting to know the percentage of immigrants in the defense. i think by working in the defense, immigrants would get off the benefits and show their loyalty to their new home country at the same time. however, i have a feeling the number of such immigrants is very low.
19:07 February 11, 2013 by Max Reaver
Man when it comes to military ads to attract more meat to the grinder, the best ones I've seen come from US of A. Surely the Swedes could learn a thing or two from them, they already kiss American asses.
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