The Navy spent two years working on a new slogan it hopes will appeal to "centennials," the 17- to 21-year-olds who are the follow-up to millennials.
In the end, it says focus groups overwhelmingly settled on what will be at the core of a massive new Navy marketing campaign: “Forged by the sea.”
The recruiting and branding effort is set to kick off Saturday during the Army-Navy football game with a television commercial featuring “Forged by the sea” and an ensemble cast of submarines, aircraft carriers, SEALs, fighter jets and satellites, or “from the depths to the stars.”
"The Navy is now recruiting young men and women of the centennial generation, who have different goals, expectations and information-gathering habits than their millennial predecessors,” Rear Adm. Pete Garvin, the head of Navy Recruiting Command, said in a release.
The Navy said it has had nine tag lines over the past 45 years, including “America’s Navy: A global force for good” and “Navy: Accelerate your life.” But those were not particularly popular and the service said its inconsistent branding was making it hard to recruit and “build internal pride,” according to a release on the new slogan.
A marketing agency was hired in 2016 and made a series of “immersion trips” across the country that included interviews with current and former sailors, along with research on centennials.
"Centennials saw the Navy's purpose as one-dimensional and strongly tied to defense and combat,” said Ken Dowling, managing director of the marketing firm Young and Rubicam based in Memphis, Tenn. “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.”
Six proposed slogans made the final short list, and “Forged by the Sea” was overwhelmingly the choice of focus groups, according to the Navy.
The centennial-focused push during the Army-Navy game will include augmented reality filters on the Navy Recruiting Command Facebook page and there will be a Facebook live broadcast of a “Sea It Live” game day show with an “exclusive second-screen experience” for those watching at home.
“After the game, a street team will capture sailors' reactions and feelings about the new tagline and commercials in real time and post on [the Navy Recruiting Command] Twitter page, while calling on followers to share their own thoughts,” according to the Navy press release.
The service plans other social media marketing through winter with a full rollout of the new slogan and campaign in March.