Six months after abandoning its humanitarian but underperforming slogan, “America’s Navy. A global force for good,” the U.S. Navy is making an $84 million bet on a new, presumably more muscular advertising agency.

The Pentagon recently announced that Young and Rubicam, a slick Manhattan marketing firm, has won the Navy’s advertising contract for its recruitment effort for one year. Y&R rival Lowe Campbell Ewald had been exclusively retained by the Navy for 15 years until it was ousted.

Dan Flint, a marketing professor at the University of Tennessee told The Intercept that the feel-good message “did not motivate young men and women to act — and worse it demotivated those who served.”

Why? “The campaign was too soft for a war fighting force,” he said. “It might have played well to some outside audiences, namely some of our allies, but not recruits, service members or even our enemies.” But it’s “not quite the campaign that evokes confidence, power or fear,” he said.

“It does not tap into pride enough,” he added. “And worse, it and the humanitarian aide aspects of their missions made some service members feel confused as to why they were there and if they were losing their war fighting capabilities.”

“America’s Navy. A global force for good,” had been employed since 2009 until it was quietly shelved last year. Top officials had started “receiving feedback that it wasn’t popular with active-duty sailors or veterans,” as well as the public, according to

Flint said he thinks that Young and Rubicam can craft a more mission-appropriate campaign.

“Y&R know how to do do this,” he said. “Citizens seem proud to be American, angered still at the ugliness they see daily overseas, and, in some ways, are downright pissed. Some of them want to enlist to help. The risk is activating the ‘ugly American syndrome’ attitude in these people, and, in general, overseas.”

But Y&R CEO David Sable may or may not have gotten the message. He said this week that the contract offers the firm “a chance to not only do good work, but also to do good in the world.”

If the firm’s Navy managers are satisfied with Y&R’s work over the next year, they will have an opportunity to extend the arrangement until 2020 — a move that would net Y&R an additional $373 million.

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(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Photo: U.S. Navy