A couple of years back we produced a recruitment video called "What Do You Want To Do?" through Tribal Resourcing for Thames Valley Police. It was an action-packed, high-octane piece rounded off with a high-speed car chase. The video went down a storm and has since won a whole bunch of awards. However, after reading a post on Radley Balko's blog, The Agitator, we looked back on our TVP video in a slightly different light.

Radley contrasted a 2009 recruitment video from the Decatur, Georgia, police department with one from 2008 for the Newport Beach, California, police department.

DPD's video puts emphasis on the force's responsibility to "enforce a higher standard" and assist their community at large, it even has a bobby on a bike! NBPD's video, on the other hand, takes a more Full Metal Jacket-esque approach and shows guns, shouting, more guns, angry dogs, even more guns and ties it all off with the friendly catchphrase "Stop resisting!"

The two videos couldn't be further apart in their approach, but seeing them placed together clearly illustrates just how versatile video is. Both advertise essentially the same thing yet they target vastly different audiences. Further to this, it's worth considering just how far these videos go to maintaining a certain style of policing, whether that approach is right and whether it dictates or is dictated by the levels of crime in that area.

Interestingly, according to data from the FBI Uniform Crime Rate database for 2008, Decatur had roughly 60 more violent crimes and nearly 2000 more property crimes per 100,000 people than Newport Beach. It would appear guns are slightly more efficient at stopping criminals than bicycles…

When watching "What Do You Want To Do?" back, I now can't help but feel it errs more on the side of Newport Beach's approach. Whilst being nowhere near as extreme it opts for excitement over social responsibility. The stats suggest that this may not necessarily be a bad thing but with this new perspective would we have taken the same approach if we were to do it all over again?

Recruitment based communications are evolving at an exponential rate. We need to constantly strive for new and better ways to reach audiences as what was relevant and effective only a few years ago quickly becomes outdated. By looking back at our past projects and seeing them in a wider context we can identify their strengths and weaknesses and take mental notes to help improve future projects.