A new recruitment ad for the Royal Navy explores the complexities of cultural identity in the U.K., focusing on the real-life tale of a Sikh naval officer.
A new TV spot, created by agency Engine Creative, called "Raj’s Story," tells the story of Lt. Raj, a Sikh serving officer in the submarine service, and explores his childhood growing up between two cultures in West London.
The film recreates scenes from his childhood, including a conversation in which he told his parents he wanted to join the Royal Navy. His father bluntly responded, "We don't do that." It ultimately concludes with Raj saying that the sense of belonging he found in the Royal Navy helped him to rediscover pride in where he came from and claim back his Sikh identity.
The ad, directed by Sashinski, was a runner-up in the annual Channel 4 Diversity in Advertising competition, which this year focused on the authentic portrayal of U.K. Black, Asian and ethinic minority cultures (the winner, EA Sports, showcased an Asian Muslim soccer team).
"The £250,000 of free air time allowed the Royal Navy to provide a different and indeed unique insight into life in the Royal Navy through the eyes of serving Lt. Raj," said Paul Colley, head of marketing, recruitment and attraction at Royal Navy, in a statement. "His story is a reflection of diversity in its truest sense and the life you can lead in the Royal Navy.”
“Raj’s story showcases what many young Sikhs face growing up," explained Major Daljinder Virdee, chairman of The Defense Sikh Network, which consulted on the campaign. "The Sikh identity is distinctive and has a long and proud tradition. Like Raj, the Armed Forces helped me discover more about my Sikh heritage and ultimately myself. The Defense Sikh Network is grateful to have been involved in guiding this project and to have for the first time a Sikh character at the heart of an armed forces advert.”