Canadian Armed Forces' Latest Appeal Tries a New Direction

A fresh approach to military recruitment?

Military recruitment campaigns traditionally focus on the skills and traits soldiers can leverage to succeed later in civilian life. Themes such as self-sacrifice and potentially finding yourself in a combat zone come into play as character-building exercises, learning experiences that can shape the future in powerful ways.

The emphasis is on you—"Be All You Can Be," etc. The U.S. Army just revived that war cry in a high-profile appeal launched two weeks ago as it struggles to reverse enlistment shortfalls. Facing similar issues, the Canadian Armed Forces this week unveiled work playing on similar themes, albeit in a somewhat different way. 

Intriguingly, "This Is For You"—there's that you again—somewhat inverts the U.S. model. Naturally, the work focuses on helping others, courage, leadership and teamwork. Here, however, those are character attributes the CAF is actively seeking.

So, in a broad sense, the campaign constitutes a call for those who already fit the bill to join up and, presumably, further develop as human beings.

"You want the most out of life," the ad says, "and realize what you're looking for is already in you."

Audience flattery is nothing new, but it's well handled and stays on message, with aspiration scenes of everyday life that feel relatable. It's a softer sell than the U.S. Army's, less Hollywood cinematic, though visually robust nonetheless.

Call it a holistic approach, with service, military and otherwise, woven into the fabric of your very being. The ad's uniform sequence makes that point pretty clear. It's a tad hokey, but memorable, a visual flourish that resonates.

"Our campaign is about connecting to people on a relatable level," Feast CCO Rob Vena tells Muse. "Typical military recruitment ads were falling flat with young Canadians. This changes the narrative and captures the attention of an audience that may have never considered a career in the military."

"We've shifted the focus away from what audiences expect to see. Instead, we're telling stories about people with diverse skills and interests, showing their inner resolve," he says. "We're saying; You're great, and a career in the Canadian Armed Forces might be right for you."

"This Is For You" will run through year's end across cinema, broadcast, YouTube pre-rolls and social, with out-of-home support in the mix.


Client: Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces

Agency: Feast
Creative Director: Rob Vena
Creative Director: Ante Kovac
Chief Strategy Officer: Lucia Mariani
Account Director: McKenzie Gardiner-Armas 
Strategy Director: Simon Oppedisano 
Creative Contributors: Samuel So, Henry Park
Agency Producer: Margaret John

Production Company: Suneeva
Director: Ante Kovac
Executive Producer: Geoff Cornish
Producer: Jeff Pangman
Cinematographer: John Houtman

Editorial: Nimiopere
Editor: Graham Chisholm
Executive Producer: Julie Axell

VFX & Colour: Alter Ego

Audio House: BoomBox Sound

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