Britain’s secret intelligence service is using a movie-theater ad in its push for more agents. The goal is to attract more women and ethnic minorities into the ranks of agents made famous by the fictional spy James Bond.
The 30-second spot marks the first time MI6 has advertised in cinemas. Officials say they are seeking to promote more diversity in the service.
Alex Younger, head of the agency also known as MI6, told the Guardian newspaper he wanted the agency to reach communities who were “selecting themselves out”.
«We have to go out and ask these people to join us,» said Younger, who rarely makes public comments, in the interview published on Thursday. «I want everyone to know that, regardless of background, if you have the skills we need and share our values, there is a future for you in MI6.»
In its push to take its numbers to 3,500, the largest in its history, the spy agency is launching a recruitment campaign next week, the Guardian said.
MI6 spy agency will also go back to its old, informal “tap on the shoulder” method of hiring new agents. «That was the only way of recruiting people, a tap on the shoulder. That was the way I was recruited,» Younger said. «We have to go to people that would not have thought of being recruited to MI6. We have to make a conscious effort. We need to reflect the society we live in.»
In 2015, Britain announced it would recruit another 1,900 spies to deal with the threat posed by Islamist militants.
MI6, however, said it battled with the enduring image that its officers were all like its greatest fictional agent James Bond, currently portrayed by actor Daniel Craig. «There is a perception out there that we want Daniel Craig, or Daniel Craig on steroids. He would not get into MI6,» said the agency’s female head of recruitment, who like all its agents apart from Younger is anonymous. «We need to get that message across because it is so embedded, and we have to get around that. They may well be able to use a revolver. But that is not really what we are looking for.»
The Guardian said Younger would not be drawn on specific dangers Britain faced, but had warned the agency needed to be “upstream of the threats”.
«The terrorist threat has grown but that has not resulted in a diminution of threats posed by hostile states,» he said. «They have ways of posing a threat to us that they did not have before.»