navy & youTube


This article is a few weeks old (from the March 5 issue of Navy Times), but since it isn’t showing up on search engines I imagine most people haven’t seen it.

Several months ago, some people at my Navy command in Bahrain sent me a few of the YouTube videos from the VAW 116 “Sun Kings”on YouTube. These guys were doing what a lot of folks do on YouTube – take a song, make a video. Only these guys were cool Navy pilots. Underway. On an aircraft carrier. Totally cool.

But probably not what “big Navy” wanted as the face of Navy operations, I suspect.

I don’t know for sure what the D.C.-based Chief of Naval Information (CHINFO) reaction was, but I imagine they were a little freaked out as many organizations are when they first see their employees’ videos on YouTube.

In some cases, PR people should freak out. People like Lockheed Martin, for example. But to me, videos like this from Sailors underway having a good time while serving their country is more of a (social media) commercial for an organization than anything else.

So no, I don’t have any insight into the Pentagon reaction – but I hope that my Navy was smart enough to look past these guys making fools of themselves & realize the positive impact it could have on a target audience of possible young recruits.

For those  of you without a Navy Times login, here is the article …

Homemade videos draw target audience

Sailors’ amateur spoofs, not ad-agency pitches, reaching key pool of recruits

By Gidget Fuentes – Staff writer
Posted : March 05, 2007

SAN DIEGO — For all the official Navy recruiting ads posted on the Internet, a couple of homemade videos are reaching more online viewers than the service’s own pitches — a feat that shows the power of the Internet to sell and tell the Navy’s story.

Two music videos made by the “Sun Kings” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 116 tallied roughly 800,000 hits on YouTube, the community video-sharing Web site, as of Feb. 19.

One of the videos — the squadron’s take on the Black Eye Peas’ hit song “Pump It”— has chalked up more than 515,000 hits since its August posting on YouTube, surpassing hits on the professional band’s own videos on the site. And the video recently caught the attention of the Navy’s top networking officer, Vice Adm. Mark Edwards, whose own children’s favorite is the squadron’s music video version of OutKast’s hit song “Hey Ya,”which has collected more than 375,000 hits on YouTube.

Both videos, which the Point Mugu, Calif.-based squadron shot during a cruise aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, shows sailors and air crew flying, working and having fun on their deployment as they mouth the words in a mock sing-along with the song.

‘Accelerate’ ad blown away

Edwards, speaking last month at the “West 2007” defense industry conference in San Diego, featured the “Pump It” video during a luncheon presentation about Navy networking. Displayed on large overhead screens, the video’s humorous images and song’s catchy finger-tapping beat demanded the attention of many on the conference floor.

And that, in itself, may have proved Edwards’ point.

On an adjacent screen he showed a short recruiting video from the Navy’s ad pitch series, “Accelerate Your Life,” often aired in commercials and posted on official Navy web sites. Its viewers, he noted, fall far short compared with those homemade online videos. It’s not alone. On YouTube, for example, an official recruiting ad called “Navy Opportunities” got a five-star rating but posted only 680 viewings as of Feb. 21.

And that means the Navy’s official pitch is missing much of the online target audience: The Millennium Generation, men and women ages 24 and under who represent the Navy’s recruiting pool. But that group often bypasses the traditional recruiting approach in favor of trendy collaborative sites such as YouTube and MySpace.

“Whose lives do we want to accelerate? Who are our warriors today?” Edwards, the deputy chief of naval operations for communication networks, asked rhetorically.

Unlike Generation X — 25- to 45-year-olds whose naval careers saw the creation of e-mail and the World Wide Web — the Millennials, defined as children, teens and young adults ages 6 to 24, “are technically savvy. They grew up with the Internet,” he said.

And they expect more from it, he added.

‘This trend isn’t going to stop’

The Navy must quickly adapt, Edwards suggested. “This is how people are getting the information,” he said of sites such as YouTube that enable users to post, share and downloads thousands of videos and clips. “You can tell your story in MySpace. You can tell your story on Google. You can tell your story on YouTube. It is such a powerful concept.”

“The Navy’s got to kind of get into it,” he said, noting, “This trend isn’t going to stop.”

One community — naval special warfare — already has set anchor in YouTube to help it reach out and grow its commando force.

“Defending Freedom,” an official video posted on YouTube, is narrated by actor Gerald McRaney and tells today’s story of Navy SEALs and special warfare combatant crewmen. The nearly eight-minute video was produced in 2005 for the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif.

It’s been viewed on YouTube more than 713,000 times since its mid-January posting.

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