For most Israelis, turning 18 means beginning either three years (men) or two years (women) in the military. But recent studies have found that enthusiasm among the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) has been on a decline. An IDF poll from last month finding that 70 per cent of youth want to serve in the military, down from 79 per cent in 2010 .
So the IDF decided it would produce its own viral video campaign that could excite young teenagers nearing conscription age. It launched on Tuesday, and it has received plenty of attention.
Except the Israeli Internet community it is aimed at seems to mostly hate it.
In the first of three ads, an old man prepares thick, bitter coffee in a traditional pot. After delightfully recoiling from a sip, he says in Hebrew, “You think that’s strong?” It cues a montage of quick action cuts of soldiers firing guns, parachuting into the sea, and practicing urban warfare drills. Then the old man returns to say, “The IDF is strong.” (The dialogue is identical in each of the campaign’s videos):
One aimed at a female audience shows a teenage girl rocking out on a drum set before a montage highlights the IDF’s jets, ships, and tanks :
The videos have received a generally negative reaction. Variations of “This is where our tax dollars go” and the Internet favourite “Go home, you’re drunk” are common.
The final one in the campaign features a jacked guy working out to a dance song with English lyrics. You think he’s strong? Cue military explosions:
One commenter, going by “The Son Of Israel,” left his opinion on each of the videos on YouTube. He noted the similarities to the U.S. Army’s “Army Strong” campaign, concluding that the coffee ad represents “feelings of inferiority” in “38 miserable seconds.” He was also insulted that the IDF chose to launch it in the middle of Hanukkah (which ends Dec. 5).
That similar ads do well in the United States suggests that the reception to the IDF’s campaign may have more to do with the current feelings of Israeli youth than the ads themselves.
Twitter user @dorshemer thinks the ads make his country and military look bad. On the tweet with a link for the drummer spot he wrote, “Oh come on. This is even more embarrassing than the last one.”
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the ads are the beginning of a much bigger promotional campaign that will kick off in full next year and will use television, radio, and print. It will cost 10 million shekels, equivalent to $US2.8 million. An unnamed private ad agency is working with IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz on the project.
“Even at a time when we’re counting every shekel, we were prepared to invest in this, because we understand the personnel are the heart of the army,” Col. Sammy Holzkan told the IDF newspaper Bamahane.
(Note: Google Translate was used to translate Hebrew to English. English translations found in the Israeli newspapers were also used.)
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