Monday, August 1, 2011

UR Doin' it Rite: The US Navy

So what does Translinear Marketing look like when someone does it correctly?

So far, one of my favorite examples comes from those wonderful folks who got bin Laden:

A few years ago, the US Navy ran a terrific TV commercial.  (Disclosure: I was born in a Navy hospital not far from the SEALs’ West Coast base, but for total disclosure’s sake, I always root for Army)  Anyway, have a look:

Great piece of branding.  Atmospheric.  Narrative.  It could serve as the opening scene to a good action movie or video game.  I’d call it perfect for the target group of young men 15-24 or so.  You could criticize it for being too subtle, but the Navy doesn’t want the dumb ones, do they?

At the end of the spot, which has no voiceover or other text, a slate reading “” comes up.  Typing in that URL brings the user through a redirect to page with information about the SEALs...and every other job the Navy offers.

From there, the prospective recruit can:

  • Request more information
  • Chat live
  • Find a recruiter
  • Join one of 16 Facebook communities
  • Follow the Navy on YouTube, Flickr and other services

Here’s why I like this campaign: it shows a nuanced understanding of the mindset of a large number of young men.  Probably every young man has had the conversation with his friends around what he’d do if he joined the military.  Fed by years of movies and video games, most young men see themselves as fighter pilots or commandos.  Maybe one in twenty says “tank commander” because he likes the idea of running over something big in a tank.  Not one of them ever says “I’d like to scrape barnacles off the USS Secaucus.”

Now, according to, four out of five men who make it to training drop out before completing the course.  So the Navy uses the big sexy job to pique enough interest to fill the ranks of barnacle scrapers by creating a true conversation.

Anchors aweigh, indeed

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