Creative in association withGear Seven

The US Navy's New Recruitment Focused Campaign Looks Like a Hollywood Blockbuster

Post Production
Los Angeles, USA
Forged by the Sea campaign was created by Y&R with VFX, colour grade and titles by MPC and signals the Navy's new emphasis on digital marketing
The Army-Navy football game is one of the oldest and most storied contests in the history of collegiate athletics. On Saturday, December 9, in Philadelphia, the U.S. Navy will be telling a new story ­as it launches a multifaceted branding campaign targeting the current generation of recruits. The launch will also mark the début of the Navy's new tagline, "Forged by the Sea."

Commander, Navy Recruiting Command Rear Adm. Pete Garvin, said the game-day launch represents only the first wave of an integrated marketing campaign that will include a steady level of advertising on digital and social media platforms during the winter, before a full roll-out in March. Additional marketing elements will début throughout the year.

"Sea to Stars," the first in a series of commercials featuring the new tagline and branding, will air on CBS during the second quarter of the Army-Navy game, as well as on screens in the stadium. A second commercial, "Game," will also air in-stadium.

To view the new ads, please visit

In addition, the launch will include a "Forged by the Sea" print ad in the official game program, commercials during the radio broadcast of the game, and "Forged by the Sea" brand messages on the digital signage throughout the stadium and on billboards, bus wraps, and subway advertising in Philadelphia near the stadium. Navy cheerleaders will carry flags with the new tagline and the Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs, will carry "Forged by the Sea" banners as they parachute into the game before kick-off. The Navy's rebranded virtual reality trucks, the Nimitz and Burke, will be parked near the stadium, offering fans the opportunity to experience a virtual Navy Seal rescue mission.

The launch will also feature a wide range of innovative social media initiatives before, during, and after the game, signalling the Navy's new, strategic emphasis on digital marketing. There will be five augmented reality filters on the Navy Recruiting Command's Facebook platform that allow fans to creatively celebrate the Navy, the game, and the new tagline. Facebook Live will be used to stream an Army-Navy game day show that will provide an exclusive second-screen experience for fans watching the game at home. Called "Sea It Live," the show will be hosted by two active duty Naval Academy Alumni, and will feature 10-15 segments throughout the day of the game. In between segments, the Facebook page will be populated with unique content that highlights sailors and their unique stories. After the game, a street team will capture sailors' reactions and feelings about the new tagline and commercials in real time, and post on NRC's Twitter page, while calling on followers to share their own thoughts.

"The Navy is now recruiting young men and women of the Centennial Generation, who have different goals, expectations, and media-consumption habits than their Millennial predecessors," Garvin said. "As such, the Navy recognized the necessity to develop a new marketing campaign and digital-heavy media strategy to more effectively reach, educate, and inspire the best-and-brightest prospective recruits."

The Navy's advertising and marketing agency, the Navy Partnership, led by Young & Rubicam, began the research phase of the campaign in the summer of 2016. The research helped the Navy gain a deeper understanding of the mindset and career goals of Centennials, their perceptions of the Navy, and what might motivate them to choose the Navy as a career. More specifically, the research revealed that there was nearly 100 percent awareness of the Navy, but a zero percent understanding of the Navy's full mission, reach, and influence. Centennials saw the Navy's purpose as one dimensional and strongly tied to defence and combat. The things that set the Navy apart from other branches of the military weren't well-defined, and there was limited awareness of the wide range of career opportunities the Navy offers.

After months of development and testing, the tagline "Forged by the Sea" was unanimously chosen by focus groups comprised of not only the Centennial target audience but also enlisted sailors, officers, Navy veterans, and key influencers. The tagline effectively communicates that the Navy has evolved in response to the sea, and that sailors are tested and shaped by the Navy/sea experience, becoming better versions of themselves.

According to Garvin, getting the support of current Navy personnel and veterans was essential to creating a genuine brand identity and tagline.

"Over the years, we have changed our tagline several times to capture everything our great Navy represents in just a few simple words," Garvin said. "After much research and creative development, we emerged with a deep understanding of our organization's purpose and potential — all of which tie back to the sea. For more than 200 years our sailors have been tested and shaped by the sea, becoming better versions of themselves. Our new tagline perfectly captures the transformative impact the Navy and the sea has on our sailors."

From mid-December to early March, NRC will kick off an initial advertising campaign on a range of digital and social media platforms, including YouTube, Spotify, CBSi, Turner Sports, Bleacher Report, VEVO, and the Trade Desk. The campaign will feature "Sea to Stars," "Game," a series of six-second commercials, and a variety of banner advertisements.

In March, once additional commercials and digital and social media creative assets are completed, NRC will launch its fully integrated campaign, which will continue to be seen primarily on digital and social media platforms. NRC and the Navy Chief of Information will capitalize on the three-month window leading up to the full launch to educate and prep key stakeholders, and build more positive momentum with all internal and external audiences.

"Our new brand platform, tagline, and marketing strategy would not be possible without the incredible participation of Sailors, veterans, and other key stakeholders who participated in the research, creative development, and testing.  The access and feedback were invaluable as we forged our new brand," said Garvin. "Their contributions will help ensure that "Forged by the Sea" and our future marketing efforts resonate with the Navy community and prospective recruits for years to come."

Creative Credits
Title: “SEA TO STARS” 

Chief Creative Officer: Leslie Sims 
Executive Creative Director: Ryan Blum 
Senior Copywriter: Megan Lee 
Art Director: Kolby Osborne 
Executive Director of Integrated Production: Greg Lotus 
Executive Producer: Mathieu Shrontz 
Executive Producer/ Head of Music: Mathieu Shrontz 
Freelance Music Producer: Theresa Notortomaso 
Senior Business Manager: Erin Levine 

Global Client Lead: Ken Dowling 
Account Director: Rebecca Zeits 
Account Executive: Justin Bateman 

Copywriter: Dustin Thomas 
Art Director: Hayley Efird 

President: David Zander 
Director: Rupert Sanders 
Executive Producer: Kate Leahy 
Producer: Adriana Cebada Mora 
Director of Photography: Dariusz Wolski 

Editor: Neil Smith 
Senior Cutting Assistant: Theo Mercado 
Assistant Editor: Trevor Myers 
Executive Producer: Erica Thompson 
Producer: Jamie Lynn Perritt 

Creative Director: Michael Gregory 
VFX supervisor, lead compositor: Jim Spratling 
CG Lead: Josh Hatton 
Colorist: Mark Gethin 
Color Producer: Rebecca Boorsma 
Executive Producer: Elexis Stearn 
Producer: Jamie Loudon 
Production Coordinator:Jamie Loudon 
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