Navy to roll out new slogan during Army football match-up

The Navy plans to push the marketing campaign through the winter and start a "full rollout" in March

Katherine Hafner
The Virginian-Pilot

Just what does it take to get young people to join the Navy?

Parachutists, virtual reality and nearly half a billion dollars is a start, if the Navy's new branding campaign is any indication.

With the campaign rolling out this weekend at the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, officials want to reach a new audience: centennials, born from the late 1990s to 2000s.

The Navy's working to recruit young men and women of that generation who have different "goals, expectations and information-gathering habits" than their predecessors, including millennials, Rear Adm. Pete Garvin, commander of Navy Recruiting Command, said in a statement Tuesday.

To that end, they've got a new logo and tagline: "Forged by the Sea."

The Navy has lacked a consistent brand message over the years, Garvin wrote on a Navy blog. That's "created difficulties in educating potential recruits about the Navy’s mission and benefits, bringing knowledge to the general public, and in building internal pride among Sailors."

In 2014, the Navy ditched an unpopular slogan – "A global force for good" – for the simple "America's Navy."

The new brand, meant to denote that "Sailors aren't born. They're forged," was developed starting spring 2016, when the Navy asked a New York marketing agency to create "an enduring and authentic brand identity," according to a news release. The agency's five-year contract could reportedly reach $457 million.

Officials interviewed former and current sailors and held focus groups with 17-to-21-year-olds, according to the Navy statement.

Thousands of taglines were considered before settling on "Forged by the Sea." The Navy will launch the campaign at the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia Saturday.

"What we found was that there was nearly 100 percent awareness of the Navy, but zero percent understanding of the Navy's full mission, reach and influence," Ken Dowling, managing director of the agency, Y&R Memphis, said in the statement. "Centennials saw the Navy's purpose as one dimensional and strongly tied to defense and combat."

Thousands of taglines were considered before settling on "Forged by the Sea," to communicate that the Navy "has evolved in response to the sea, and that sailors are tested and shaped by the Navy and their sea experience, becoming better versions of themselves."

The launch includes a print ad in the program of the Army-Navy game Saturday, commercials during its radio broadcast, virtual reality trucks parked near the stadium, billboard and bus wraps, banners flown by cheerleaders and the Navy parachute team, and social media. The Navy plans to push the marketing campaign through the winter and start a "full rollout" in March.

The first ad carrying the new branding will air during the game and is dubbed "Sea to Stars." It opens on a submarine and flashes to scenes of service members in different roles, including on small boats, an aircraft carrier, on planes and up into space.

It ends on the words: "From the depths to the stars."

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©2017 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service