US Navy trades Super Bowl spots for Esports

Published: Dec 20, 2019

Advertising during the Super Bowl – famously, ad spots during the event are insanely expensive and quite covered. It’s unsurprising to see large organisations like the US Navy run an ad campaign surrounding the Super Bowl, as they have done before, however as of this year, that is no longer the case.

In 2020, the Navy plans on spending almost $33 million USD on online advertising. That’s not only over 95% of its yearly budget, it’s also times and a half what the Navy usually spends on TV advertising. Coincidentally, the last million or so of the budget will be spent on radio spots and billboards – that leaves nothing for TV.

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Semper Esports

As of February, a part of that $33 million budget is going to land in the esports industry – the Navy is going to roll out ads around esports competitions. While more details aren’t known yet, the idea is to go beyond simple advertising – there is even talk about an all-Navy esports team made up of active-duty recruits. Which game or competition this theoretical team would enter isn’t known yet, but it would certainly set an interesting precedent.

In addition to that, the Naval Service is also running a YouTube campaign that shows scenarios where Navy personnel competes against social media influencers. An example of this would be William Osman, an engineer with over 1.4 million subscribers, who competes against Navy engineers in different disciplines.

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Sailor VS influencer

The idea is to show what life in the Navy is like – the influencers ride on a submarine, compete in various skill tests and more. The show is called “Sailor VS” and the trailer for it is surprisingly interesting.

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According to Navy experts, digital online content is already having the best results as far as recruitment goes – the plan is to further expand on that. It’s not a bad plan either – by 2021 esports viewership numbers are expected to be around 84 million people. That’s 84 million that could potentially be reached through esports-focused advertising – a viable strategy.

The only professional sports league with higher projected viewer numbers in the US is the NFL which stands to have 141 million viewers. The problem isn’t just numbers though – it’s also age. The Navy wants to target primarily young recruits – some 61% of esports fans are under the age of 25.

The idea is precisely to recruit the kind of people that might typically watch esports – young people around college age in the US.

A tentative start

For now, it’s not quite full steam ahead though – the Navy spending in the esports sector is going to stay somewhat modest, while the organisation tries to figure out where to put the majority of it for maximum effect.

In other words, it’ll be some time before we see the Navy logos on any esports events, or a Navy team competing anywhere, but keep an eye out – with a budget like that, it’s only a matter of time.

Image courtesy of US Navy

ESB Staff
ESB Staff

Since: August 10, 2015

At we are a group of independent journalists with one big passion: Esports. We've been following the industry and have contributed to its growth since 2015.

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