Home » Military Personnel » Navy Recruiting’s New Tagline ‘Forged by the Sea’ Launches Saturday

Navy Recruiting’s New Tagline ‘Forged by the Sea’ Launches Saturday

“Forged by the Sea” is the Navy’s new tagline to be used in recruiting advertisements. The new tagline will be unveiled during Saturday’s Army-Navy football game. US Navy photo.

 “Forged by the Sea” – the Navy’s new recruiting tagline – is being unveiled Saturday in a commercial scheduled to air during the second quarter of the annual Army-Navy football game.

This idea behind this new tagline, which is part of a larger branding effort being launched during the football game, is to represent what the Navy’s top recruiter is calling “the aspirational outcome of every sailor’s journey in uniform.”

The “Sea to Stars” commercial airing during the CBS broadcast showcases a variety of Navy platforms, such as a submarine, an aircraft carrier, a guided-missile destroyer, a Littoral Combat Ship, an unmanned aerial vehicle and special operations sailors, including a team in SCUBA gear exiting a submerged submarine.

The idea, reflected in “Sea to Stars” and a second commercial titled “Game,” is that sailors are shaped and strengthened through their service, according to a statement released by the Navy Recruiting Command. The tagline is also meant to describe the Navy as a team, “tempered and toughened over 242 years of maritime dominance.”

For the first time in 16 years, actor Keith David will not be providing voice-over work for the Navy recruiting commercial. David, who has appeared in a host of films and television shows, has also provided the voice for UPS’ “What can brown do for you” ad campaign.

Actor Keith David. Wikimedia Commons photo.

By launching the campaign Saturday, Navy recruiters hope to capitalize on what has become a somewhat captive television audience. The annual Army-Navy game between teams from the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy will be the only college football game on television Saturday, a tradition started by CBS in 2009.

“The Army-Navy game is one of the most revered and watched contests in college sports, and we wanted to take advantage of this unique opportunity to introduce the new brand and tagline on an occasion where the spirit of competition and military service are being celebrated,” Navy Recruiting Command commander Rear Adm. Pete Garvin said in a statement.

Last year’s Army-Navy game had an estimated television audience of 7.9 million viewers, making it one of the more watched non-championship or bowl college football games, according to Nielson viewer data compiled by Statista Inc.

When “Sea to Stars” airs Saturday, it also marks the end of a two-year transition period from the Navy’s previous ad campaign and ad agency. In 2015, the Navy switched ad companies, replacing Lowe Campbell Ewald – developer of the tagline “America’s Navy – a global force for good” and the red pin-drop commercials – with New York-based firm Young & Rubicam (Y&R).

Lowe Campbell Ewald contested the contract, though, delaying Y&R’s work by about a year, according to news reports and filings with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the federal regulator that handles contract protests. Ultimately, Lowe Campbell Ewald’s complaint was denied and appeals were withdrawn, allowing Y&R to start work.

The Y&R contract has one base year and options to extend four more years, which if exercised is worth $475.5 million, according to the GAO. But Y&R appears interested in remaining the Navy’s advertiser for some time. In July 2016, the firm opened an office in Memphis, to be near Navy Recruiting Command in Millington, Tenn. The Memphis office has 50 staffers working the Navy account, according to Y&R.

U.S. Navy’s new Logo, brand and tagline. US Navy graphic.

Once work on the new campaign started, Navy recruiters and Y&R conducted extensive market research to gain an idea of how the Navy was viewed by the target recruiting audience – people between the ages of 17 and 21 years-old, the so-called Centennial Generation. The result, according to the Navy, is Centennials are looking for meaningful adventure, a creative and innovative environment, and the strength coming from membership in a unified team.

“What we found was that there was nearly 100-percent awareness of the Navy, but zero-percent understanding of the Navy’s full mission, reach, and influence,” according to a statement released by Ken Dowling, head of the Navy Partnership and managing director at Y&R Memphis.
“Centennials saw the Navy’s purpose as one-dimensional and strongly tied to defense and combat. The things that set the Navy apart from other branches of the military weren’t well-defined, and there was limited awareness of the wide range of career opportunities the Navy offers.”

The first two commercials seek to change how potential recruits view Navy careers. The full ad campaign rollout is slated to start in early 2018, with the addition of print and online advertising. Two more television commercials are planned for release in March, according to the Navy.

  • DaSaint

    Excellent and detailed article Ben! Looking forward to the ads, though I will probably miss Keith Davids familiar voice. Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones and David seem to have locked up the top jobs.

    • muzzleloader

      Actor kieth David, not to be confused with actor David Kieth.

      • DaSaint

        Keith David. No ‘s’. Thx!

  • ShermansWar

    What a lame campaign, full of incongruous and counter intuitive imagery. Forged by the sea? Did they just pick a random phrase out of a hat? Sounds like something a random word generator came up with.

    Forged? How is the sea like a forge? It isn’t hot, and you certainly can’t bang a hammer against it, unless you’re like Xerxes who had the sea whipped in a fit of pique during one of histories most memorable examples of impotency. Absolutely uninspiring jingoism. Left me flat.

    • Eric Arllen

      Spot on. You beat me to it.

      If anything with that image, perhaps, “Tempered in the Sea”.

      At least it isn’t, “A Global Force for Good”. That one made me want to hurl.

    • For me, the “Forged By The Sea” slogan fails to address the time horizon of most 17-22 year-olds who impatiently ask themselves, “Where will I be in 6 to 12 months?” Meanwhile a sailor with adequate time at sea is likely between their first and second enlistment or later; think 5-10 years “forged” on duty. So a mismatch of time horizons.

      At the 12-month mark about 80% of young seamen will still be in training and/or assigned a shore billet. Of the 20%-or-so assigned to a vessel within their first year, half are too green to experience (much less complete) their first forward deployment. “Forged By The Sea” sounds more like a reenlistment slogan that respects an experienced sailor’s accomplishments.

      • ShermansWar

        Valid point I suppose.By the time they have become sailors they haven’t spent 2 seconds on board ships, lol.

  • proudrino

    ‘The idea, reflected in “Sea to Stars” and a second commercial titled “Game,” is that sailors are shaped and strengthened through their service, according to a statement released by the Navy Recruiting Command. The tagline is also meant to describe the Navy as a team, “tempered and toughened over 242 years of maritime dominance.”’

    Shaped and Strengthened. Tempered and toughened….. Is forged really the right word here?

    Is there really an institutional belief that sailors are shaped, strengthened, tempered, toughened, or even “forged” by the sea? That we send boys and girls out to sea and they return as hardened warriors from the experience? The fundamental flaw with this ad campaign is that it simply isn’t true.

    • El_Sid

      Yes it’s the right word, it’s a metaphor. This is not about using metallurgical precision to appeal to 17 year-olds – I’m surprised that everyone is picking up on that but seems fine with giving $500m to Madison Avenue?

      I don’t see anyone claiming that they return as “hardened warriors”, but they will have grown up as people and gained new skills, and that’s what this is getting at. It’s following in the footsteps of the British services, which have found that the whole Queen and country shtick no longer really works in the wake of Iraq/Afghanistan, and who have moved to a more transactional approach, less what you can do for your country and more what your country can do for you.

      The trouble is that whilst the strapline is OK (albeit a blatant rip-off of “Made in the Royal Navy”), it bears little relation to the content of the videos. In particular the “sea to stars” one, which could be a corporate video that Lockheed or Boeing show to Wall St rather than something that “talks” to potential recruits.It suggests that the USN is in thrall to equipment that apparently need no human involvement, there’s certainly no indication of the variety of different roles that recruits are needed for.

      For me the most effective British recruiting ads have been the ones that put people front and centre, either finding themselves doing things they never expected, or being able to pursue particular passions – a recent one featured a chef for instance. We all know that the military marches on its stomach and you need chefs as part of the team – but that’s not obvious to the general public, and so that kind of thing helps widen the potential recruitment pool to include people who were maybe only thinking in terms of working in a restaurant. Same applies to eg an ad with a women engineer working on a fighter jet – it works in recruitment terms regardless of what you think of the wider diversity “thing”. But most of all the human touch just works much better for the social media generation than the bland corporate approach.

      • DaSaint


      • ShermansWar

        It’s a poor metaphor. Like everything the Navy does these days it raises more questions than it answers

  • Western

    See Foreign Merchant Ships Up Close and Personal
    Four New Uniform Designs in Every Enlistment
    All Ships, No Shipyards
    An Admiral for Every Ship
    We Used to Be Something

    • RDF

      I like this. The admiral thing is a bit of a stretch.

      • Western

        Ya think?
        450 active ships on duty or reserve.
        There are 293 admirals as of 2016.
        So, an admiral for almost every ship work for you?

        • Ctrot

          Per US Navy website there are 279 deployable ships in service as of 12/06/17.

          I think the number of deployable ships is the proper measure to use.

        • RDF

          I thought you meant physically on each ship. My experience is each Battle Group gets one. The others are manning shore billets. You can probably retire 25% of them and No one would notice.

    • FromTheMirror

      Sad but True!

    • ShermansWar

      We also used to have weapons on ships, now empty SSM cannisters on the few that do have them, and no relief coming with continued sequestration.

  • MLepay

    I like it. Very strong sounding. To forge something is to put in great effort an energy and create something new.

  • John Thomas

    I saw nothing in the 1 minute movie about sweating down in the engine room, midnight watches, nor twenty foot seas tossing one around. Nor, can I see the money paid to the advertising company to come up with this slogan. I joined the Navy without seeing a slogan. Put a man in his Bell Bottom Blues and Dixie cup on a sign. Just saying.

    • ShermansWar

      For the 500 million they spent you could have made 3 feature length movies recreating every major battle the Navy ever fought, instead we get this muddled milquetoast ad campaign. Pfffffttt…

  • Michael Fitzgerald

    “Forged Readiness” would be more accurate.

    • Michael

      Or “Surrendering patrol boats and crews to Iran since 2016.”

      • FromTheMirror

        Or “Losing crypto-gear to the Commies since 1968”.

        • ShermansWar


  • RDF

    A bit embarrassing. How lame is it to start to emulate the Doggie and Air Scout themes. Sigh….

  • RDF

    There really is nothing much better than a warship heading out to combat with the rails manned with dixiecups… A band…. If that doesn’t work, maybe you don’t want them.

  • Refguy

    Anybody remember Port of Call, Bayonne, New Jersey?

    • muzzleloader

      Yea I remember, it was an SNL skit as I recall.

    • Michael

      SNL when it was good! Jim Lainhart, Corky and I first saw that “commercial” when we were at NATTC Memphis going through AT “A” school. We laughed like crazy until we realized that the joke was on us 😉

  • Curtis Conway

    If the US Navy does not return to the definition and ‘Standard’ for ‘Survivability’ in US Navy Regulations as representing watertight integrity and compartmentalization, then they can forget their new tagline, particularly for anyone going to a Littoral Combat Ship. Those individuals that tried to modify ‘Survivability’ to mean ‘Combat Capability’ do NOT represent Righteousness and the Real world, and if ever there was an environment where one must be grounded in the Truth . . . it is COMBAT!

  • DaSaint

    Um. So the ‘Sea to Stars’ video had great music!
    Ok, if I were 17 again, I wouldn’t be attracted to the opportunity to examine an underwater mine, but the brief surface vessel shots, and carrier clips were entertaining. The transition from the Hornet to the Triton was horrible, as I thought the Hornet was about to down the UAV! Then the satellite, ending with ‘Forged by the Sea’, which overpowered the previous From the Depths to the Stars. I’d give it a C.

    The Not A Game video is more personal, and better overall. I’d give it a B.

  • SFC Steven M Barry USA RET

    That blithering imbecility is the equivalent of “Be all you can be,” and “Army of one.”

    Does the military really need advertising agencies for recruiting?

    • ShermansWar

      Army of one was the worst campaign of all time.

  • John Locke

    Google, “Join the Navy not the Army” and watch the video.
    Only cost $52 to make and a whole lot more memorable than the million dollar trash they are trying to recruit with today.

  • CaZ

    How about “Navy… It’s not just a job, it’s an “adventure”!”… ? Ok, kidding aside, I don’t need the rah – rah ads… How about
    “O beautiful for heroes proved
    In liberating strife,
    Who more than self their country loved
    And mercy more than life!

  • BudgetGeek

    Nearly half a billion dollars that could have been devoted to improving readiness went into this ad campaign — are the recruiters actually failing to meet their numbers or did some new executive (SES, FO, or political appointee) simply want a legacy? Think about that number — 280 ships in the Navy – that is an additional $1.7 million per ship that could have been spent differently. Wow. The next time Navy leadership says there is not enough money….

    • John Locke

      It really hits home when you consider the military inherently doesn’t turn a profit.

      • ShermansWar

        Doesn’t it though?

    • ShermansWar


      How many F-18s could that have put back in service? I bet they could have put more than a few SSM on ships with that money. They have how many ships backlogged with maintenance and training issues? that’s a lot of money poorly spent.

      Someone’s brother in law or cousin got a nice bonus this year. Probably approved the the 275th Admiral that we don’t need.

  • ShermansWar

    Even the new graphics look Avant-Garde, cheap, cheesy, uninspired and computer designed, on an old desktop dell at that. Like someone was trying to save money on ink and colors. Just gross and ugly.

    It’s as if the rampant dysfunction in the Navy can no longer be hidden even when it comes to the simplest of tasks.