Your Navy

Navy slogan search in limbo amid advertising contract dispute

It's back to the drawing board for the next Navy recruiting slogan.

A year ago, the Navy dumped its unpopular "A global force for good" tagline after distancing itself from it. Now the hunt is on for new slogans to go with the branding, "America's Navy." This search inspired the Navy Times contest where readers submitted their ideas and later voted on them.

The slogan, Known as a tagline in the advertising world, the catchphrase is is a catchy phrase that creates a feeling for the product or service being sold. It's featured at the end of TV commercials and in print ads.

With "A Global Force for Good" apparently in the Navy's advertising wake — at least for now — the service still has yet to identify something new to take it's place.

Quietly, the service started distancing itself from the "Global Force for Good" nearly two years ago, but the first formal announcement of that fact came early last December after a new commercial — known as "The Shield" played during the Annual Army vs. Navy football clash.

"It's called a "tag line" in the advertising world — that catchy little phrase tagged on to the end of 30 or minute commercials and designed to create a feeling for the product being sold. It's often used as a stand-alone statement in print adds, too.

"Choosing an advertising slogan is a very deliberative and multi-faceted process, in which there is a lot of time and effort spent conducting qualitative and quantitative research as well as focus groups to ensure alignment with the Navy's message," said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, spokesman for the chief of naval personnel Spokesman.

"Any new slogan needs to resonate with a variety of groups including sailors, veterans, parents and influencers, in addition to the core group of prospects we are trying to attract."

Navy Recruiting Command has said the "global force" tagline resonated with millennials they need to recruit, but the slogan came under fire from the beginning from sailors and veterans who found it preachy. Meanwhile, a fight for the Navy's multi-million dollar advertising contract has left the Navy's search for a new slogan in limbo.

One option is to find

But the Navy's efforts to move beyond the simply "America's Navy" tag line haven't moved forward in nearly two years now, when the service held focus groups which showed service members and veterans did not identify with the "global force" tag.

Recruits apparently had, because during the time — and even till today, the Navy's recruiters have never failed to meet their monthly quotas in over a decade.

Still, in June, 2013, The Navy's Chief of Information Office paid the Gallup polling service $40,000 to host 19 focus groups with active-duty sailors and veterans in Norfolk and San Diego.

Focus groups convened in 2013 found that most of the enlisted sailors in the 165 participants said "global force" missed the mark when it comes to embodying sailors' day-to-day work. Officer opinion was more subdued than enlisted sailors, but also skewed negative.

But What came out of those polls was a that a The focus groups also found that sailors liked the brand to be, simply simple tagline"America's Navy." which he service started to phase in over 2014 resonated with most. Many commercials, which initially ended with actor David Keith's voice booming "America's Navy: a Global Force for Good," were shortened to just "America's Navy."

"We believe that the brand is 'America's Navy' and that will remain unchanged," then Chief of Information, Rear Adm. John Kirby, then the Navy's top spokesman, told Navy Times in late November, 2013. "That's what we are. That's who we are. That resonated well when we did our focus groups [in June]."

The long-term idea, Kirby added, in 2013, was that "America's Navy" could be partnered with a series of slogans. It was also decided that the Navy needed slogans that resonated with everyone from new recruits to veterans — who often are the Navy's unpaid recruiters, influencing others to join the Navy as they did.

What the Navy needed, decided Vice Adm. Bill Moran, the Navy's chief of personnel, was a single identity for both recruiting and retention and last December, after the new commercial debuted, his then spokesman Cmdr. Chris Servello said that was still that case — and that the "global force" message could still be used, but that the service would actively look for other messages as well.

Navy Recruiting Command, which oversees the recruiting slogan, normally hires an advertising contractor to find and pitch ad taglines to the service. In the past, it hasn't been the Navy itself who comes up with these messages, but instead, that's work normally left up to advertising contractor to find and pitch to the Navy.

The Navy's then advertising contractor, ad firm Campbell Ewald, was sent around the later in late 2013 and early 2014 to talk to Navy-wide in late 2013 and early 2014 and talked to everyone, from new recruits in boot camp to fleet sailors, with a goal to tease out new themes that could become the new tagline, but to date none have emerged from this effort — at least nothing has been released publicly.

The ad contract went up for bidding in 2014 and this year the Navy decided to change direction and selected a new firm for the $84 million contract, after a 15-year run with Campbell Ewald. Campbell Ewald appealed that decision to the Navy and lost. They have now A follow-on appealed it to the when that appeal failed — they have now appealed to the Government Accountability Office was denied Sept.ember 14 and Campbell Ewald's next stop will be the Federal Court of Claims, which will make a final decision. But that decision could be months away, sources say., which is expected to announce it's decision soon.But right now, the Navy's multi-million advertising contract is in limbo. It's been that way for nearly a year and a half now.

The contract went up for bidding in May, 2014 and since then, the Navy's only move in the tag-line world has been moving to the single "America's Navy" message. None of the expected series of slogans have emerged, and probably won't until the Navy's advertising contract dispute is settled.

It took a year for the Navy's Fleet Logistics Center Norfolk, whose contracting department is located in Philadelphia, to announce it had decided to award the contract to Young & Rubicam, a New York-based advertising firm, after a 15-year run with Detroit-based Campbell Ewald.

The price tag is initially $84.4 million for a one-year fixed-price deal. But The contract with ad firm Young & Rubicam also includes four, one-year, optional extensions that could bring the total value of the award to $457.4 million.

If Campbell Ewald isn't successful in getting the GAO, multiple sources tell Navy Times they'll challenge the decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

But the battle for the Navy's advertising bucks is also leaving the Navy's search for a new tag line in limbo, too. Since the current contract expired and went up for bid, Campbell Ewald has held onto the Navy's contracting work, but they don't seem to be working on slogans anymore.

Campbell Ewald's first campaign lasted the Navy for over eight years. "Navy: Accelerate Your Life," was the services message from 2001 until 2009.

It was replaced by the unpopular "America's Navy — A global force for good," which had a run in all Navy advertising campaigns until last fall during the Army-Navy football game and hasn't been seen, since.

Another commercial, "Pin Map," which debuted Jan. 23 and featured huge red spheres in the air, over land and over oceans — later revealed as push pins in a world map showing the service's global presence — that commercial also ended with "America's Navy."

"During this protest period, [Campbell Ewald] has been conducting business as usual — managing the [recruiting] website, its social properties, the Navy Advertising Lead Tracking System as well as supporting conventions, diversity events and [science, technology, engineering and math] displays," Christensen said.

"The current bridge contract was scheduled to end May 19, 2015, but it has been extended on a short term, month to month basis during the contract protest review by the GAO."

Staff Writer Tony Lombardo contributed to this report.

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