The United States military is pretty crafty at recruiting new members, including sometimes subtle tie-ins across a range of media, but they aren’t the only ones relying on non-traditional sign-up methods. Germany, a country which has had to keep military efforts low-key since the end of World War II, isn’t shying away from using some very creative recruitment methods, as is evident in its creation of Die Rekruten, an online reality show.
Die Rekruten, which follows a set of new military recruits and their transition from civilian life to public service, is Germany’s way of targeting the rising millennial population. Launched in November, the series of 80+ videos became an instant hit on social media, bringing in close to 40 million views.
Some have called the move propagandistic, but for Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Fischer, a Bundeswehr recruiter and early skeptic, watching the full series turned his early impressions around. The first few episodes were said to be misleading as they played into the “drama” of the young recruits adjusting to the disciplinary structure, but what followed was a very accurate representation of how the military works.
The launch of Die Rekruten is only one of the many social media tactics being used by the Bundeswehr, and the number of new recruits are showing these methods are paying off. In order to maintain its military force of roughly 180,000 members, the military only needs 20,000 new yearly recruits. According to government data, the actual number of applicants is often double that number of 20,000.