NATO needs help reaching Generation Z so is turning to TikTok and Instagram influencers in their 20s from the UK and Europe to stay relevant

Like most 75-year-olds, NATO needs help reaching the younger generation.

This week, the military alliance is grappling with hot-button issues like Ukraine’s eventual accession and the failing health of the octogenarian U.S. president. To stay relevant in the modern age, the alliance has turned to a group of 20 influencers to spread its message.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has invited 16 content creators from countries including the UK, Germany and France with large followings on TikTok, Instagram and other social media platforms to attend a summit in Washington on July 9-11. Another 10 influencers from the United States will come at the invitation of the US Department of Defense and the US Department of State.

The move is an acknowledgement that traditional media, which has been covering the summit extensively, may not be reaching Generation Z.

It also shows how long-standing institutions like NATO increasingly need to think outside the box to boost public support — especially at a time when former President Donald Trump and other Republicans are lobbying the United States to cut spending on European defense.

The union covers the creators’ travel expenses but has no editorial control over their posts and will not pay them any fees, according to spokesman Tom Peyre-Costa.

He did not confirm the names of the influencers invited, but NATO’s official social media accounts had an explanation. videotapes about the origins of the alliance, as told by a 25-year-old DC social media celebrity and supporter of “vibrant masculinity,” Anthony Polcari.

“Creators will have the opportunity to attend the NATO Public Forum and engage with a wide range of experts and senior officials from NATO and its allies,” Peyre-Costa said in an email. And this isn’t the first time — a group of content creators visited NATO headquarters in Brussels in April to celebrate its 75th anniversary. A similar program was to be held in 2022.

Polcari said in an interview that he was invited to help with the introductory video but was unable to participate in the summit influencer program due to scheduling conflicts. He believes creators like him can help convey NATO’s message to a generation on the brink of power.

“Our generation is going to be in power soon. People who are much smarter than me are going to be leading this country,” he said. “I think these institutions have a responsibility to make sure that the younger generation knows what they are doing.”

Organization required

At the Canadian Embassy in Washington on Tuesday, a 22-year-old man Amanda Tron sat in the media area listening to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s speech on the impact of climate change on security. She listened carefully, considering how to convey the day’s events to her 161,700 TikTok followers.

Round said people in her generation don’t really consume traditional media, especially if it’s behind a paywall. Instead, they tend to get their information from social media, she said.

She has seen misinformation and disinformation spread like wildfire, and saw the NATO invitation as a crucial opportunity to help her audience — primarily girls and young women aged 16 to 24 — understand the importance of NATO.

“I believe that this is an organization that is needed, obviously in our current political climate in terms of defense, but also in terms of other threats that are looming like climate change,” she said in an interview. “I encourage young people to get more involved in this organization.”

A State Department spokesperson said in an email that the group of nearly 30 influencers in Washington this week had an audience of about 40 million people across social media channels.

“We know that more and more people are getting their news through social media channels, including through content creators,” the spokesperson said. “During the NATO Summit, we are working with these voices to reach a wider audience and explain the importance of the alliance and its 75th anniversary.”


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