Sailor VS Hero

US Navy - Sailor VS

Executive Summary

Increase relevance of the Navy to prospects by creating a series of video challenges with YouTube Creators and Navy Sailors, to give an inside look at Navy experiences, careers and perspectives.


The challenge for the US Navy was how to appeal to a generation of teenagers, in particular high-quality recruits, many of whom do not respond to traditional Navy ads, to understand the variety of different career options on offer within the Navy,

80% of Gen Z teens say that YouTube has helped them become more knowledgeable about a particular subject. GenZ trust social media creators as much as (and sometimes more than) mainstream celebrities. YouTube provided the ideal platform for reaching young adults who are highly engaged with creators.

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.”


The US Navy launched its first YouTube influencer marketing campaign in a series of videos with selected YouTube creators designed to help recruit tech talent.

We helped identify YouTube creators with a focus on science, technology and maths, and then invited those creators to highlight different roles and environments within the Navy. The Navy offered these YouTubers access to Navy submarines, ships and striker fighters to show the range of experiences and professions available. The campaign consisted of 30+ custom adverts driving to the site

Sailor VS


hours trending on YouTube


minutes watched on YouTube


It worked! The Navy were YouTube famous, the videos spent 80+ hours trending on YouTube, 64.9 million minutes were watched and many wanted to learn more, driving 22% of traffic. It also spiked interest in joining the Navy, with a significant increase in applications, turning YouTube fans into aviators, nuclear physicists, special forces, hackers and much more.

Captain Matt Boren, Chief Marketing Officer at the U.S. Navy said:

"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"