The Royal Marines undergo one of the toughest selection processes imaginable. Of the thousands that apply only a small percentage make it through to earn their green beret. The many health and fitness tests, which get gradually tougher as training continues, are where most drop out. Despite having the potential to succeed, 16-24-year-old applicants often turn up under-prepared or unfit.
Our primary goal was to reach as many applicants as possible with content that would inform, entertain and motivate them as they navigate the Royal Navy recruitment process and gear up for their health and fitness tests.
Our secondary goal was to make the budget stretch and maximise our investment by keeping costs to a minimum. We needed to make healthy eating more accessible to our applicants, inform the misinformed and instil the importance of a balanced nutritious diet.
As part of this, our main objectives were to:
The Royal Marines recruitment intake runs throughout the year, so we designed our content to be evergreen, allowing it to be reshared, embedded across other channels and develop as part of an ongoing series.
Our research showed that around two-thirds of those applying were already following one or more of the Royal Marines social channels. Because we were on a small budget, we focussed our effort on creating content for the existing organic audience, on channels we knew they engaged with, rather than buying media to reach a new one.
The Royal Marines’ social channels were full of informative and dramatic content, which was predominantly serious in tone. We knew there was another side to the Service that wasn’t represented, which would connect with recruits – its unique sense of humour (‘cheerfulness in the face of adversity’ is an official part of the Royal Marines ethos). By creating a lighter, more informal feel, we would stand-out amongst other Marines content and better reflect the culture.
The popularity of the quick-and-easy recipe format on social media has helped inspire huge numbers to try new things in the kitchen, but statistics show women were far more likely to be both the content creators and the audience. These videos obviously worked; they just weren’t resonating with our audience. That’s why we decided to turn this mini-genre on its head.
Marine in 15 parodied the classic Joe Wicks Lean in 15 and starred larger-than-life Royal Marines Chef, Colour Sergeant Mike Beaton. We already knew our audience responded well to real personnel, while Mike’s no-nonsense style also provided the perfect antidote to the more delicate and twee recipe videos they were used to thumbing past on social media.
Each video was shot on base, giving recruits a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life as a Royal Marine. These videos weren’t high gloss, state-of-the-art productions. They were rough and ready, cost-effective and unapologetically authentic. The format was quick, no-nonsense cooking that debunked myths surrounding diet and nutrition in a way only a Royal Marine could.
Things were thrown. There was shouting. And there was very little finesse.
The primary applicant demographic is 16 to 24-year-old men, who generally come from poorer socio-economic backgrounds. Statistics shows this demographic spends more than any other on fast-food and ready meals, largely due to a lack of cooking knowledge.
In recent years this has been compounded by many schools dropping any form of cooking from the curriculum and the perceived expense of ‘healthy’ food. There has also been a huge rise in sugary energy drinks, calorific energy bars, supplement shakes and meal-in-a-can products, which are being portrayed as ideal for the health conscious.
With this in mind, we made sure all our recipes cost under a fiver and could be made in one pan to make them as accessible to our audience as possible.
Our £15k investment allowed us to create 11 entertaining yet informative videos. Engaging content that wasn’t just a flash in the pan, but instead had longevity, gave recruits access to tasty, quick recipes they can return to again and again. These videos empowered recruits to manage their own nutrition through affordable balanced meals, with limited effort and minimal equipment.
As our primary platform, we reached a whopping one million people (1,053,919) on Facebook. Engagement was high – we achieved 92,838 engagements (reactions, comments, shares and clicks) on this channel alone.
The videos got more than 700k views across the four owned social channels (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter). These were organic views from our recruits, not boosted by media spend or inflated with views from irrelevant audience groups.
Recruit feedback and comments on social provide us with a direct measure of success:
“It shows anyone can cook, he helped me a lot during my training - I can’t cook for shite”
“They are not only well done they are also motivational”
“Finally, I can stop eating my boring chicken salads and have something nice to eat”
“Boom 💥I love it! Keep laughing randomly when I think of it.😂”
“I could watch these all day 😂”
“No faffing! Excellent!”
“Simple and effective BOOM!!!!”
“This is the sort of humour I like about the Marines. Serious times, and not so serious times.”
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