Advertising has almost entirely moved to digital mediums to cater to younger target audiences.
The U.S. Navy announced that they will not be rolling out a Super Bowl in lieu of spending the money on online advertising and esports.
The Navy investing in esports may seem strange at first, but this is a growing theme in military organizations. Similar to the American military often competing in collegiate football games, the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy are now building esports teams. The Navy’s push to move their advertising efforts online falls in line with their recruiting audience of 17 to 25-year-old males who are spending less time watching TV, and more time playing Call of Duty or watching Twitch.
There isn’t much surprise in their turn to online advertising, but the support of esports is an intriguing twist in their initiative. Sandra Muoio, a senior partner and group director for media at WM Global told USNI News, “We had a lot more money running in TV three years ago. And now we’re focused on digital, and it’s just because a much younger cohort of people are consuming media online. And when we look at the sports, we see esports is very young,”
Young, but growing faster than any other entertainment sector – even traditional sports, and film. Military organizations supporting esports and using video games to recruit has been a hot topic in the past few years as its prevalence grows. The two sides of the coin are that first, using a fictional piece of media that encourages violence will never go hand-in-hand with promoting real-life military participation. Second, as someone who spent three years in ROTC and has family in the military, enticing young adults to join the military in hopes of becoming a sponsored esports player will present legal issues sooner rather than later. Cloud9 had come under fire from some esports fans for proudly announcing the Air Force as a sponsor last year.
There is a large ethical debate about this use as the U.S. Navy joins the U.S. Army and the British Army in using video games to promote their recruiting efforts. The market value of television advertisements is at an all-time low and many are switching to online advertising for many reasons. It is of no fault of their own that they must adapt to be successful online, and – if anything – the Navy joining the esports wave proves the cracks that are beginning to appear in traditional sports and media.