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Made in the Royal Navy


Royal Navy



Positive Provocation

Wavemaker challenged the Royal Navy to build a long-term brand approach to their recruitment communications to encourage people to make a decision of a lifetime; joining the Royal Navy. We would create behaviour change at scale.


In times of conflict, as well as peace, the Royal Navy is key to the prosperity of Britain and the stability of the high seas. The right quality and quantity of recruits are required to sustain operational capability.

Back in 2014, faced with an incredibly tough five-year goal to increase its manpower the Royal Navy decided to adopt a long-term brand led approach to their recruitment communications. The task was daunting due to a substantial (and increasing) ‘civil-military’ gap, a media narrative of a force that was ‘out of business and a generation who are more familiar with ground based wars than naval ones.


Creating a groundswell of interest to join the Royal Navy against this backdrop needed a strategy that was designed to create behaviour change at scale. We needed to increase interest in joining the Royal Navy in the short term and sustain consideration in the long term. We identified the three key barriers to choosing a career in the RN:

Invisibility: The Royal Navy has little physical presence – we had to build mental availability to keep them front of mind and get them on career long lists.

Irrelevance: Most people choose jobs that are for ‘people like them’. We had to create an intimate emotional connection.

Intimidation: Even when ‘in market’, the decision is easy to put off.


We developed an engaging and adaptable framework “Made in the Royal Navy”. Our approach had three clear pillars to address the recruitment barriers and was executed in a way that resonated with our young audience:

  • To sustain salience > tell the most powerful stories at scale using TV, VOD, radio and cinema
  • To create an emotional connection > deliver ever increasing relevance using paid social, display and programmatic to serve relevant content
  • To make a decision easier > Remove any final blocks to conversion using retargeting data to increase relevance, developing a Facebook chatbot to answer questions and paid search to expedite applications.

Over the years, the media mix adjusted to accommodate the switch from Millennials to Generation Z.


The Made in the Royal Navy campaign smashed its objectives, not only increasing interest to join but reducing media’s cost to do so by -49%. We also increased awareness from 69% to 75% over the five years.

New recruits
Increase in emotional connection
Cost saving over five years

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