‘I feel the need……The need for speed.’ – TopGun 1986
After the Vietnam war the US Navy was in a quandary. Their recruitment applications was way down and the not without reason. Desperately seeking to turn the situation the US Navy hit upon a novel idea to rebrand the organization and thus was created a sequence of events that led to the release of the 1986 blockbuster ‘TopGun’. Starring Tom Cruise as ‘Maverick’ Lt. Pete Mitchell rode into the hearts of millions of young men, including me as the role model that all men wanted to be. So joining the Navy was suddenly cool. Needless to say post the release of the movie the US Navy saw a 500% jump in applications.
A 1986 promo of the movie can be viewed here.
I believe this was one of the most ambitious rebranding exercises ever undertaken and was done very subtly. Since then the US Army has attempted a similar exercise in ‘Black Hawk Down’ and the original ‘Transformers’.
I discussed in an earlier piece that rebranding tried to change the associations in the minds of its prospects and Top Gun just managed to do that. Showing the human side of the Navy, and going beyond just aircrafts, the film managed to bring out the human element in the armed forces.
The movie also proved beneficial to the sunglasses industry with ‘Ray-Ban’ aviators becoming a craze among most young men.
Using movies to rebrand or brand an offering is not new. A good example is “Sex and the City 2” which is based in Abu Dhabi and is showcasing Abu Dhabi as the new gulf destination and an alternative to Dubai. Similarly the movie ‘Bunty aur Babli’ was used to launch the Maruti Suzuki ‘Swift’.
But can a fragrance be used to rebrand an institution? Again the US Marines have taken the lead on that by launching their own fragrance called Devil Dog.
The fragrance is another branding attempt from the Marines, it contains lime, agarwood, vanilla, cedar, mint accords, citrus, ozonic accord, orange, sugar, and sandalwood. Also the label says ‘Made in the US’. Another organization that has used fragrance effectively is Singapore Airlines, who got their own fragrance developed to spray in their aircrafts.
I am not aware of many such initiatives by the Indian Army for example. I know they launched a series of advertisements, and also supported some movies like Lakshya and LOC.
So, I would like to hear from you if you know other examples of the military or armed forces using any rebranding techniques.