US Navy issues RFI for potentially lucrative integrated recruiting campaign

WPP's Young & Rubicam was awarded the contract in 2015.

The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Detroit conducts high-speed operations (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devin Bowser)
The Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Detroit conducts high-speed operations (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devin Bowser)

MILLINGTON, TN: The US Navy has issued an RFI alerting agencies ahead of an integrated recruitment marketing campaign. 

The RFI did not provide an overall budget for the work. However, the previous award for a recruiting campaign, given to WPP agency Young & Rubicam in 2015, before WPP combined the firm with VML, had a one-year base period value of $84.4 million. Including four one-year options, the contract’s ceiling was $457.5 million, according to a Navy database. 

Since then, the Navy has spent $222.7 million on the campaign, according to USASpending.gov. 

The goal of the RFI is to identify vendors, gain feedback and obtain market research from the industry about contract type, length and pricing, according to Navy documents. Responses were due by 5 pm EST on Monday. 

Work on the campaign would range from print ads to planning and executing a brand campaign with multifaceted integrated communications, according to the RFI, which was issued on December 2. 

The anticipated period of performance is May 2021 to May 2022 with four one-year options. The Navy is anticipating issuing the solicitation in May of next year.

Branding for the campaign will "serve as the platform for all future Navy communications that will appear throughout traditional media, public relations, emerging media, entertainment or any other initiative," according to the work statement accompanying the RFI. 

The Navy isn’t likely to change its brand or tagline, "America’s Navy, Forged by the Sea," but the winning agency could be asked to "modify, change or sustain the brand," according to the RFI. 

The winning firm would also be expected to develop a marketing plan using channels including media, PR and "outreach in the communications of the essence of the Navy through a brand campaign." Specifically, the Navy will require services including PR, social media, websites, apps and field events marketing; lead generation, nurturing, collection and management; and operation of its electronic fulfillment program. 

The goal of the PR work would be to "improve the relationship between America’s Navy and its various audiences," according to the documents. The Navy expects the comms push to "amplify the Navy’s presence, reach and influence; utilize the press to generate authentic conversations; and ensure that NRC leadership and spokespeople are prepared to effectively deliver campaign messaging."

The PR team would also support and promote recruiting events, with one to two PR team members specifically assigned to on-site support for monthly events. Other PR work includes writing and pitching native content for publications such as the Sea Cadet Quarterly and other outlets that use native content.

In September, the US Marine Corps awarded WPP’s Wunderman Thompson a five-year, $529.9 million contract to amplify its recruiting efforts. Last November, the US Army gave Omnicom Group a 10-year, $4 billion recruitment advertising account in a decision that was initially contested by firms from Interpublic Group and WPP. FleishmanHillard was chosen to handle communications services for the Army account. 

A Navy representative declined to comment on the RFI.

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