Monday, September 01, 2008

Unintelligent Intelligence

Adland is a fairly mythical place and with good reason. Nevertheless, there is a fine distinction to be drawn between poetic licence and flat-out factual inaccuracy. Moreover, when the potential sinner is theoretically in the business of intelligence, proper appreciation of the niceties of reality is positively essential to avoid death by irony.

In fairness to GCHQ, the task they face in terms of recruitment advertising is enormous. MI5 and MI6 have the Beeb fighting their corner with Spooks which, while increasingly delusional (Code 9 may be the single most insane spin-off programme ever created) at least imbues the spies foreign and domestic with a little je ne sais quoi. GCHQ, meanwhile, sits in its monolith by the motorway with no action heroes or pin-ups to overcome the fundamental London-centricity of our national psyche.

Realistically, the only approach available is to turn that perch on the edge of the Cotswolds into an advantage. It's an approach that should be fairly easy to implement too; naturally biased against the place as I am, even I will admit that heading to the leafy Georgiana of Cheltenham is massively different to the sort of governmental exile that the DVLA or HMRC represent.

Unfortunately, the splendour of Montpellier and the gentility of Charlton Kings weren't enough for whichever agency is responsible for the latest round of shelter posters that were adorning the Great Western Main Line as I made my trip east this weekend. Instead of classic urban living or suburban bliss, the image we instead find beneath the vaguely pathetic but contractually required claims of coolness by association is that of a Cotswolds village. The tagline?

Work for your country. Live in the country.

It's a beautiful sentiment, but one let down by those pesky strictures of reality. Note in particular the key enjoinder of the poster, namely that the energised reader should text a word to a five digit number. It is fairly fundamental that, if your chosen method of communication is a text message, the type of person you are trying to attract is a young one; then again, the type of person you're trying to attract to a career with a poster is probably not exactly middle-aged either.

Equally, said young person is unlikely to be far along the career path and as such is being recruited to a junior post, and a junior non-London weighted government post at that. One thing that you can say for certain about such positions is that the pay isn't going to get you very far in the property market of the Cotswolds, the land that affordable housing forgot.

Still, advertising would not be advertising if there wasn't one born every minute. And yet somehow the thought of the ones born every minute being our first line of defence in the intelligence war doesn't exactly inspire confidence...

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