Why the Royal Navy is all at sea

The Royal Navy has launched an ad campaign in its ongoing battle to sign up recruits.

Launching a recruitment campaign in a time of conflict (MW last week) is not ideal timing for any branch of the armed forces, especially when a freeze on staff levels in some areas sends out a mixed message.

One ad industry source believes that, for any campaign to be a success, the Navy needs to first address the problem that people no longer know exactly what it stands for.

“The Navy has a big image problem because people simply do not understand what the service does these days,” he says. “And people just don’t know what it’s for any more.

“Unlike the Army, there aren’t pictures in the media of what they do. People know what the other services do, but less so the Navy. It’s difficult to put a handle on its role.

“You don’t have battles on the open seas any more but they do a lot of humanitarian work and policing which people just don’t realise.

“They do a lot of great work but I think this [campaign] lacks that excitement and drama,” he adds.

Previous campaigns have focused on the drama of the work with lots of emphasis on teamwork.

Experience over drama
With a strapline declaring a “Life Without Limits”, the current recruitment drive takes a much softer stance and features staff talking about their experiences in the force and the opportunities a life in the Navy provides.

WCRS and Carat won the account to develop the campaign in June last year after pitching against the incumbents Mediaedge:CIA and Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. Naked and Clemmow Hornby Inge and Universal McCann and DFGW were also involved in the pitch for the £5m account. Rainey Kelly had previously held the account for 20 years.

The campaign has been shot in a documentary style and uses real staff in a bid to “lift the lid” on life in the Navy and differentiate it from the other forces.

Attracting the right stuff
Recruiting for the armed services has become increasingly competitive in recent years, with all three chasing an ever decreasing number of suitable candidates.

The stories from a pilot, medic and air engineering technician, among others, aim to show the real story of working for the service, while at the same time highlighting the opportunities on offer for recruits. The ads were developed and shot by BAFTA nominated director Kevin McDonald.

The Navy’s recruitment website has also had a complete overhaul by digital communications agency twentysix London and takes up the same theme.

The brand strategy is designed to appeal to the web-savvy 16to 24-year-old target audience and re-educate them about what is involved with a career in the Navy.

Client services director at twentysix London, Paul Coffey, says: “The Navy may be a traditional brand with a long history but this new treatment brings it bang up to date and makes it relevant to today’s generation.” But it remains to be seen if the latest campaign will actually result in more recruits opting for a life on the ocean wave.

Matthew Gorman

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