Building a brand fit for the biggest decision of your life: Made in the Royal Navy

IPA Effectiveness Awards Case Study 2020

After years where recruitment meant replacing leavers in a shrinking headcount, the Royal Navy needed to attract 34 per cent more annual entrants over five years. Marketing’s objective was to increase short-term applicants by sustaining long-term consideration in the Navy as a career option. The ‘Made in the Navy’ brand platform was developed to build the salience and emotional connection needed to support this life changing career choice. Digital tools were also introduced to remove barriers to expressing interest in applying. This paper describes how communications exceeded targets over five years, whilst reducing the media cost per expression of interest.

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At 474 years old, The Royal Navy is the UK’s oldest Armed Force, but without manpower its Ships, Submarines, helicopters and aircraft are rendered impotent, so recruitment is critical. In 2014 our recruitment challenge was substantial and we knew that we were going to have to make tough decisions - both in what we changed and in what remained. Key to this process for the RN was working in truly symbiotic way with a range of specialist agencies with the mutual respect needed to have honest and frank debate to get to the heart of the Royal Navy experience. Together we identified the need to build a long-term brand approach that could be both consistent and adaptable. And over the last 5 years we have done just that. Stewards and Submariners, Ratings and Apprenticeships, Carlisle to Portsmouth…all “Made in the Royal Navy “. What we’re becoming more and more aware of is that one of the great strengths of Made in The Royal Navy is that it is so true to the lived experience of so many. This means that every single person’s own Made in the Royal Navy story - whether told through an ad, at a recruiting event or over a beer can be the inspiration for someone else to begin their very own “Made in…”

Paul Colley, Head of Marketing & CRM
Royal Navy

Winners 2020

Bronze Winner


Building a brand fit for the biggest decision of your life: Made in the Royal Navy


Royal Navy


Royal Navy


Wavemaker London

Principal Authors

  • Elizabeth Baines - ENGINE
  • Ruth House - Wavemaker

Contributing Authors

  • Zoe Whelehan - Wavemaker
  • Susanna Cousins - Wavemaker

Credited Companies

  • Gain Theory - Econometrics
  • Jigsaw - Research
  • Great State - Digital Agency

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