The U.S. Navy aims to change Gen Z mindsets in ads featuring real-life sailors

New campaign from VMLY&R focuses on not saying 'never' to joining up

Published On
Oct 14, 2022

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A new campaign from the U.S. Navy targets Gen Z recruits, in a post-pandemic world in which they may lack motivation to join up

The Navy primarily recruits 17-to-24-year-olds, whose perceptions about military service have changed dramatically in the last few years due to many issues, including COVID, a strong job market, and a lack of personal connection to military life. According to the Navy, just 2 percent of the youth market is eligible and motivated to serve, and many of the remaining 98 percent say “never” to a Navy career before ever exploring the possibilities. 

The new campaign, by agency of record VMLY&R, features current sailors sharing examples of the kinds of experiences and opportunities Gen-Zers are missing out on by not considering a Navy career. "I figured only weathermen track storms." says one recruit, while another reflects how he figured "I'd never get out of my hometown." The spots end with the call to action: "Joining the Navy sounds crazy. Saying 'Never' actually is." 

The campaign includes a 60-second film, two 30-second films, three six-second films, and two 15-second films, all of which will be part of a paid media campaign on the digital and social media platforms most popular with Gen Z.

"Since our founding, the Navy has empowered sailors from all walks of life to exceed what they thought possible in terms of their own personal and professional accomplishments,” said Rear Admiral Alexis “Lex” Walker, Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, in a statement. “We want to share with Gen Z the life-changing opportunities the Navy provides, and to help them understand the vital role the Navy plays in all of our lives, defending against our adversaries and ensuring our global economy travels over free and open seas. These are opportunities to serve a cause greater than any individual, one that requires core values of honor, courage, and commitment.” 


“For the Navy to become an option for Gen Z naysayers, we have to show the unique opportunities they are saying ‘never’ to,” added Ryan Blum, VMLY&R's executive creative director. “The campaign is designed to change Gen Z mindsets about the Navy and emphasize that a Navy career is an answer to the question, ‘What is next for me?’”



Oct 14, 2022
Client :
U.S. Navy
Agency :
Chief Creative Officer :
John Godsey
Executive Creative Director :
Ryan Blum
Group Creative Director :
Earl Wallace
Creative Director/Writer :
Megan Sousoulas
Creative Director & Art Director :
Eric King
Global Head of Production :
Greg Lotus
Executive Producer :
Bridget Fontenot
Production Business Manager :
Erin Levine
Executive Music Producer :
Theresa Notartomaso
Associate Music Producer :
Kaylie Linder
Executive Director Client Engagement :
Chris Edmondson
Group Director Client Engagement :
Rae Ann Fisch
Director Client Engagement :
Nate Wachter
Production Company :
Director :
Hans Emmanuel
Director of Photography :
Michael Gioulakis
Line Producer :
Mahlin Diamond
Partner & Executive Producer :
Michael Bergin
Executive Producer :
Ryan Hawkins
Editorial Company :
Nomad Edit
Editor :
Brandon Porter
Managing Director :
Susye Melega
Executive Producer :
Justin Ladd
VFX & Finishing Company :
The Mill
Executive Creative Director :
Michael Gregory
Head of 3D :
Tim Kafka
Lead Artist :
Gustavo Bellon
Sr Executive Producer :
Karen Anderson
Senior Producer :
Michael Heil
Associate Producer :
Johnny Edson
Color Grade :
Managing Partner :
Robert Owens
Colorist :
Mark Gethin
Sr Executive Producer :
Meghan Lang Bice
Color Producer :
Phoebe Torsilieri
Music :
Executive Producer :
James Dean Wells
Creative Lead :
Mike Jurasits
Composer :
Jonathan Hubbell
Audio Post :
Chief Engineer/Sound Design :
Sloan Alexander
Engineer/Sound Design :
Daryl Pinsdorf
Post Producer :
Rob Suchecki

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