U.S. Navy goes all in on influencer marketing with YouTube campaign

The military arm worked with VMLY&R, Wavemaker and Google.

The U.S. Navy is diving head first into influencer marketing with its first YouTube creator campaign in a quest to recruit more tech-savvy sailors.  

The drive, "Sailor Vs.," offers three cretors unprecedented access to Navy submarines and ships to show their viewers how being a sailor can help recruits pursue a range of professions: from nuclear propulsion to cybersecurity technicians.

"Next year, the Navy is looking to recruit over 50,000 Sailors -- 5,000 of which are considered high-quality recruits -- nukes, cryptologists and special warfare operators," said --Captain Matt Boren, chief marketing officer at Navy Recruiting Command.

"These jobs are harder to fill because they come with greater physical and intellectual demand on an individual, but the real challenge is that not enough young people know they can pursue these careers in the Navy.  

He explained that by tapping into digital video this program allows the brand to connect directly with potential recruits that wouldn’t have considered the Navy otherwise. 

Boren added: "We do a good job of reaching those that already show a desire to join, but it’s important to look in new places and present the Navy in a new context. Partnering with YouTube creators allows us to get away from the ‘shoot ‘em up’ military ads teens are used to seeing and provide an authentic look into life as a sailor."

The campaign taps into creators such as Kevin Lieber, who with more than four million subscribers on his channel called VSauce2 deconstructs complicated subjects such as logic, reasoning and robotics in an entertaining way. 

"Sailor Vs." was created in partnership with VMLY&R and Wavemaker, as well as Google’s BrandUnit Team. It launches today. 

Ryan Blum, executive creative director at VMLY&R, said: "We wanted to stop being an interruption and create content that teens crave. They won’t engage with content they don’t find relevant and interesting, so we are collaborating with YouTube creators to reach those who might not consider the military as an option. 

"YouTube creators are experts at connecting with a specific audience, so we wanted to partner with those that have high engagement amongst teens interested in highly-technical skills, math and science. Then we collaborated to come up with content that provided an inside look at careers in the Navy in a way that would resonate with their audiences. It’s all about authenticity and context."

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