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Navy seeks new slogan from 'global force' creators

Nov. 6, 2013 - 04:31PM   |  
Future Navy recruiting commercials could get a new tag line.
Future Navy recruiting commercials could get a new tag line. (Navy)
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The brains that brought you 'A global force for good' are at it again, but this time the end goal is a slogan that active-duty sailors and veterans will like.

The brains that brought you 'A global force for good' are at it again, but this time the end goal is a slogan that active-duty sailors and veterans will like.

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The brains that brought you “A global force for good” are at it again, but this time the end goal is a slogan that active-duty sailors and veterans will like.

The Navy has tasked ad agency Lowe Campbell Ewaldto get out to the fleet, talk to sailors and it is hoped come up with a new slogan, or slogans, that better resonates within the lifelines and among the old salts.

That agency created “America’s Navy: A global force for good,” which the Navy rolled out in 2009. It was intended to bring in recruits, not to serve as a sailor motto. By that measure, it’s been a success — the Navy hasn’t missed a recruiting target since the slogan launched, although it was doing fine before that, hitting all its goals since falling short on the Reserve side in fiscal 2006, according to Navy Recruiting Command figures.

Regardless, focus groups have shown service members and veterans tend to hate “global force” — and with retention becoming an increasing concern, the Navy’s chief of naval personnel wants to see alternatives.

Overseeing this initiative is the Navy’s chief of information, Rear Adm. John Kirby.

“Our branding efforts have got to be inclusive of future, past and present sailors. It has to encompass that because how you talk about yourselves matters to everybody — inside and outside the lifelines,” Kirby told Navy Times.

And he expects a slogan makeover is in order.

“I think we all expect it will change over the course of this process, but it’s impossible to anticipate what it will then be,” Kirby said, adding that the agency is already conducting research and a new campaign could be ready to rollout by spring.

Slogan-making 101

In October, marketers went out to the fleet to gain perspective on the Navy mission and sailor life. They started with a trip to boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. They also visited flight school and A-school at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., where they spoke with trainers and students. This month, they’ll get on ships in Norfolk, Va.

In January, the agency will conduct focus groups and active-duty sailors and veterans will be recruited for an online survey.

“Global force” has already come under quite a bit of scrutiny this year. In June, Kirby’s office tapped Gallup to host 19 focus groups with active-duty sailors and veterans in Norfolk and San Diego. The $40,000 study, paid through an existing contract, included slogan-related questions.

Summarizing the views of the 165 participants, most said “global force” misses the mark when it comes to embodying sailors’ day-to-day work. Officer opinion was more subdued than enlisted sailors, but also skewed negative.

While “global force” is under fire, the idea of “America’s Navy” isn’t.

“We believe that the brand is ‘America’s Navy’ and that will remain unchanged,” Kirby said. “That’s what we are. That’s who we are. That resonated well when we did our focus groups [in June].”

It’s possible, Kirby said, that “America’s Navy” could be partnered with a series of slogans. Under that scenario, recruiters could keep using “global force for good.” When asked whether multiple slogans could dilute the message, Kirby said that potential problem would be considered.

Keeping retention healthy is one of the main concerns of the new chief of naval personnel, Vice Adm. Bill Moran, who took over in July.

“Given the fiscal and operational environment, Vice Adm. Moran continues to support a central effort that unifies our recruiting, retention and community outreach campaigns,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Servello, Moran’s spokesman.

Worth the cash?

The cost of this slogan study is coming from an existing advertising contract the Navy has with Lowe Campbell Ewald, Kirby said. His office could not provide the amount of that contract as of late last week.

“We understand the need to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollars,” he said.

Even so, given the Navy’s budget constraints, some will question the logic of devoting time and manpower to researching a slogan and brand.

“I understand the critics that would say, ‘Well is this really the right time?’ ” Kirby said. “We would argue that this is the best time to do this. When it’s going to be increasingly difficult, given the pressurized budget environment that we’re in, to communicate and connect with America.”

In the meantime, “global force” continues to bring in fresh faces — particularly among the millennial crowd, who officials say like the idea of serving a greater public good. But a brand should do more than bring in the youth, Kirby said.

“If a brand really is an expression of who you are — more importantly, if a brand is a promise, as one marketer told me, between you the institution and your people, as well as your customer. ... Then whatever it is, it’s got to speak to more than ­just 18- to 24-year-old potential recruits.”

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