NORFOLK, Va. — The Navy is taking a new approach to its recruiting commercials: Appealing to people who are already in uniform, have long since left the military and those who never will join.
A slate of new Navy commercials have been developed to not only appeal to traditional recruits, but those already enlisted and Americans at large as the service seeks to improve retention and better position itself in the public eye in an era of shrinking defense budgets.
The Navy routinely places behind the Army, Air Force and Marines in Gallup surveys when questioned about which branch of the military is most important and the most prestigious, outranking only the Coast Guard in both categories.
Since 2009, the Navy had used the tagline 'America's Navy. A global force for good' as part of an effort to appeal to service-minded young people and their parents. While highly successful attracting recruits, the Navy began phasing it out last year after receiving feedback that it wasn't popular with active-duty sailors or veterans, who said it didn't capture all they did. The tagline also appeared not to resonate with the American public.
A 2013 survey by Rasmussen Reports found that only 20 percent of respondents felt that the Navy's primary mission should be as a 'global force for good', while 70 percent said it should it primarily be to 'protect and defend the United States.
So Navy brass told Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bill Moran they wanted a new campaign that spoke to the traditional recruiting audience while also better capturing how sailors, veterans and Americans think about their Navy. The result is that the brand will simply be 'America's Navy,' with different taglines appearing on different commercials and other marketing materials.
This year's television commercial buy is expected to reach $30.8 million, up from $21.5 million the previous year, to better position the Navy in case retention and recruitment take a hit amid an improving economy.
The first commercial in its new campaign aired in December during the Army-Navy football game and features a wide variety of sailors with different jobs circling around a civilian family to protect them. It ends with the tagline, 'To get to you, they'd have to get past us. America's Navy.'
Last week, the second commercial of the new campaign debuted during the X-Games, featuring giant pins placed on a map where sailors in special warfare, fighter planes and submarines, among others, operate around the world. It ends with a narrator saying "Around the world, around the clock, in defense of all we hold dear back home. America's Navy."
The commercials help supplement numerous public outreach efforts conducted by the Navy, such as air shows and fleet weeks.
"In a democracy, it's important that the public writ large understands their Navy and has ways to learn about what we do to keep our country safe," Cmdr. Chris Servello, a spokesman for Moran, said in an email.
Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis