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From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Great State - The Royal Navy Takeovers

Gold Honor in Takeovers


UK unemployment is the lowest since 1974. There is fierce competition within the job market and organisations are struggling to recruit target Gen Z audiences. The military isn’t exempt - last year more people left the Royal Navy than joined it.

They needed us to get into the heads and hearts of 16-24 year olds through their social channels to support their recruitment campaigns. Gen Z are bombarded with messaging from brands and feel overwhelmed and they seek authenticity, integrity and connection. This meant a step-change for the Royal Navy- they needed to produce a totally different kind of content. Gen Z are quick to turn away and The Royal Navy couldn’t allow that to happen.

So, we crafted a social experience to convert. We know Gen Z consumes content in a unique way so we selected the in-platform functionality on Instagram to provide real-time interactivity. Our crafted programme of takeovers went deep behind the scenes of life in the Royal Navy. We utilised Q&As, polls, stickers and quizzes to open up the floor and invite Gen Z into the fold. We delivered unfiltered, unscripted content to our audience, and collaborated with personnel to achieve it.

We needed to:

The results were game changing for the Royal Navy's mission to recruit Gen Z.  

Strategy and Execution

The strategy hit three key objectives:

Our content stood on three pillars:

The Navy’s always-on drumbeat of content takes our social audience through a conversion funnel and takeovers were designed to focus attention on a particular group, branch or role like a laser. Takeovers offered more insight for our audience; we empowered them to interact and engage by asking for their questions and delivering agile, reactive content in response to their needs. All whilst hitting the Royal Navy’s key recruitment objectives.

It was also essential friends and family are behind their decision, so we targeted their influencer bubble. We invited the potential applicants loved ones into the fold by answering any questions they had.


We gained access to secure military bases around the country so we could be on the ground to capture and curate the optimum content to hit the Royal Navy’s objectives.  We iterated as we went, learning from engagement patterns to continually refine our approach over the takeovers in order to hit the Gen Z ‘sweet spot’ that would trigger a cascade of expressions of interest.

The in-platform features within Instagram Stories offered the real-time interactivity and personalisation together with the ‘collage’ inspired aesthetic that lands so well with Gen Z. We took an insight led approach and using Q&A boxes in advance of the takeover, we steered the direction of the content and co-crafted it with the social followers.

Gen Z care about inclusivity and they expect the brands they associate with to be active allies - action shouts louder than words. We focused on the areas which were most important to Gen Z whilst addressing the Navy’s recruitment priorities. We needed to promote the modern, diverse, and inclusive nature of the Royal Navy and focussed on these content streams:

Our previous takeovers were used as an example of best practice by Instagram, but we wanted to keep raising the bar. We were agile and iterated as we went, developing and improving the content offering to ensure that every person who viewed the content saw themselves represented in the footage.


The Great State takeovers were the most successful the Royal Navy has ever seen. In short, we convinced significantly more people to convert through our content.

The impact of our work wasn’t just quantitative. Here's one example:

“Love seeing all the posts, my son is 11 and now wants to join the sea cadets”

No additional creatives were needed to deliver the work so content was published within a day of capture, and owing to the quality of the output, it will be repurposed by the Royal Navy adding increased efficiencies to a broad spectrum of channels. This added cost effiency and value for money at a time when public spending is under scrutiny. 

They was so impressed with the results of our takeovers that they have rolled out this format to their other digital touchpoints. We gave them a repeatable format which they can now deliver themselves which is now informing the wider recruitment strategy: permanent story-style, user driven, authentic content. 


Video for Great State - The Royal Navy Takeovers

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Great State, The Royal Navy


Entry Credits