Prattle & Jaw

Copy, blogs, and bits and bobs

London Met Police Recruitment

I came across this old recruitment ad for London's Metropolitan Police on the weekend. I'm not sure who did it or when it's from, but it's a fantastic ad. Direct, detailed, and honest. You don't even need to read the small print - just the headlines. Although you'd probably want to read the small print if you were going to apply. 

It's so very different from today's typical adverts. There's loads of copy, which I not only love, but also think is absolutely necessary for something like this. Some of the first words you see aren't exactly comforting; panic, vomit, cope and run, and the only images you see aren't what most people look for in a job. What it does, in a matter of seconds, is instantly turn away all the people who wouldn't be interested in the actual job. The job. Not the pay; not the lifestyle; not the benefits; but just what you'll have to face, possibly on a day-to-day basis. 

It's extremely honest, being upfront about pay, promotions, character, and what it will do to your character. It doesn't really sound nice, but then, it's probably not. It makes sure that those who do apply, probably really want to help. They don't just want a paycheck every month. 

I started to think about today's police recruitment, and had a quick Google to see what kind of ads were around today. 

Am I up to the challenge? Of what? Segwaying?

Heck, boats and helicopters look like FUN! 

Whoop! Paycheck - count me in.

Is this sex selling police recruitment?

I don't even know what I'm supposed to get excited about here.

The difference between the first and the rest is staggering. The others, granted, all from different countries, say virtually nothing, except maybe a salary and that it'll be pretty fun and exciting by the look of it. The London police ad below isn't any better. 

Policing? Easy - it's all about the money.

This amazes me. Is it because agencies (and clients!) think no one reads print? Is it the old 'a picture says a thousand words' nonsense? Could it really be because they think they'll get the best people for the job by advertising the pay? 

Then these ads popped up. 

They're by John Berridge, and copywriter Chris Holmes (who were, at the time, at TMP Worldwide), and are from 1999/2000. The Metropolitan Police service was going through one its roughest times, with the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, and having just been branded as 'institutionally racist' by the MacPherson Report. No one was applying, and the training college was all but empty. John says, "We looked at the every day innocent victims  who would suffer the most if we did not have a police service – muggings, hit and runs, terrorism etc. From there I had one of those eureka moments finding the call-to-action line 'This is where you do something about it'. Everything just clunked into place and we knew we were on to something."

They certainly were. Each ad won awards, and they were hugely successful. They're not even remotely similar to the others. Once again, they're direct, detailed, and honest. And while they most likely spark an emotional reaction in everyone, it's only a certain few who will want to actively do something about it - just as with the very first ad. 

Policing takes a special kind of person, and I don't think that person is motivated by pay. Oh for more of the latter, and less of the former...

Copyright © 2014, Lara Mulady. All rights reserved.