US Navy to launch branding campaign and tagline during Army-Navy football game

The Army-Navy football game is one of the oldest and most storied contests in the history of college football. This Saturday, December 9, in Philadelphia, the US Navy will be telling a new story ­as it launches a branding campaign targeting the current generation – Centennials / Gen Z – of recruits. The launch will also mark the debut of the Navy’s new tagline, ‘Forged by the Sea.’

‘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. In the spot, the viewer climbs from the depths of a submarine journey up to the many ships and finally climbing to the sky through fighter jets and space-high drones. It ends with ‘From the Depths to the Stars’ followed by the new tag.

A second commercial, ‘Game,’ will also air in-stadium. In it we see Navy personnel working hard, training hard and doing their jobs to the limits of their abilities. The voice over says that the Navy is “not a game” and shows the seriousness the military branch takes its responsibilities.

In addition to the spots, done by agency Young & Rubicam (Y&R), 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 kickoff. 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.

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 rollout in March. Additional marketing elements will debut throughout 2018.

“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 launch will also feature a wide range of social media initiatives before, during and after the game, signaling 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 gameday 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’s advertising and marketing agency, the Navy Partnership, led by Y&R, 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% awareness of the Navy, but a 0% understanding of the Navy’s full mission, reach, and influence. Centennials saw the Navy’s purpose as one dimensional and strongly tied to defense 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.

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.”

See both spots by clicking the Creative Works box below.

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Kyle O'Brien

I am a reporter for The Drum covering a wide array of topics but always trying to tell the best stories possible. I am a former west coaster from California and Portland, Oregon, now living in Pennsylvania — with time spent in NYC each week.

I also play saxophone professionally.

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