Sikh recruit in UK royal navy ad

The campaign tells the story of a lieutenant who embraces his Sikh identity after joining the British Navy

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By Brittaney Kiefer | Adweek | Britain |

Like other divisions of the military, the U.K.’s Royal Navy has long lacked diversity. Its new campaign is its latest attempt to welcome more diverse recruits and position itself as an inclusive organization.

The ad, created by Engine Creative, features a young Sikh man called Lt. Raj, a serving Naval officer in the Submariner service. It follows his story as he grows up between two cultures in west London, drifts away from his Sikh roots and then joins the Royal Navy—to the disapproval of his family.

At the end, Raj reveals that joining the Navy helped him reclaim his Sikh identity and find a sense of belonging.

This is a continuation of the “Made in the Royal Navy” recruitment campaign, which launched in 2014 and shows how different recruits have been shaped by joining the Navy. In 2018, it targeted women with an ad based on a true story of a Navy recruit named Louise.

Its new spot shifts the focus to ethnic identity. It also stands apart because much of British advertising lacks Asian representation.

This campaign was made as an entrant to U.K. broadcaster Channel 4’s annual Diversity in Advertising competition, which invites brands to address the lack of diversity in TV advertising and awards free airtime to the winners.

The contest’s 2020 theme was authentic representation of Black, Asian and minority-ethnic (BAME) cultures, after Channel 4’s research found that more than half of BAME people in the U.K. said current TV advertising did not represent them well and 10% saw no representation at all.

The Royal Navy campaign was a runner-up in the competition, winning $345,000 (£250,000) of free airtime, while the winner, EA Sports and its agency Adam&Eve/DDB, received the grand prize of $1.3 million (£1 million) in airtime.

The Navy’s ad will run on Channel 4 for two weeks.

“‘Made in the Royal Navy’ is only as successful as it is authentic. When we heard about Raj’s life from the man himself, it was a complex story of conflict and dual identity in a part of British society, Sikhism, you never see in advertising,” Engine Creative chief creative officer Billy Faithfull said in a statement. “We’re proud to have played a part in shining a little light on this underrepresented culture and add another authentic chapter to the ‘Made In’ story.”

Read the full story, ‘Royal Navy Addresses Diversity Problem With Ad Starring a Sikh Recruit’ (AdWeek, 3 Sept 2021), here.

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