In the Navy...

A social media campaign from the U.S. Navy called Project Architeuthis has won major social media awards this year, including the WARC Social Strategy Award and Shorty Awards for Best Multi-Platform Campaign and Best Use of Gamification.

This is a great example of microtargeting. The Navy was trying to recruit skilled cryptology candidates; however, according to the Navy, less than .0004% of the population is cut out for this work. Plus, the Navy had no media budget to try to find them.

So they created this story – basically a puzzle – that lasted for three weeks, with a new clue being revealed every day. Players created forums and used Facebook and Twitter to enlist collaborators who could help them solve the challenges. The Navy promoted the game on its website, and also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And it helped the Navy achieve its very difficult recruiting goal.

There is something about this that bugs me a little. You can put whatever fun face on it that you want, but the Navy is a branch of the military, and as such it exists to kill people and break things – not to play games.  I am not sure how I feel about attracting recruits in this way.

Nonetheless, however you feel about the ethical ramifications, it was a brilliant campaign and a model of how social media can deliver a bottom-line impact.