CategoryA07. Not-for-profit / Charity / Government


Name Company Position
Daniel Kee MullenLowe Singapore Executive Creative Director
Sheng Jin Ang MullenLowe Singapore Executive Creative Director
Claudius Keng MullenLowe Singapore Art Director
Ernest Chin MullenLowe Singapore Copywriter
Ernest Kok MullenLowe Singapore Copywriter
Caili Goh MullenLowe Singapore Senior Art Director
Cleef Chong MullenLowe Singapore Senior Strategist
Wei Jian Lim MullenLowe Singapore Account Director
Nadrah Rozman MullenLowe Singapore Senior Account Manager
Jessica Lim MullenLowe Singapore Account Executive

Why is this work relevant for PR?

The military’s recruitment machine revolves around the all-important direct mailer to each student batch, each year, with a highly-limited budget per piece. This intake was no different – except we took the strict budget to the next level – and instead of the standard card stock filled with nice pictures and standard headlines, we turned the mailer into a cryptic puzzle that demanded attention and interaction, that allowed the ones who attempted the ciphers to self-distinguish their abilities and appetite from the rest, and rewarded those who successfully solved every cipher with not just a prize, but an accelerated call-up.


Each year, the Singapore Navy embarks on a rigorous process of recruiting graduating students to join the force as Naval Experts – tech and system specialists whose roles rely heavily on strategic thinking and problem-solving skills. However, the difficulty faced with this task lies in a misperception that a career in the Navy involves physically demanding manual work. This discourages job seekers who are unaware of the other opportunities that the Navy has to offer, reducing the pool of potential candidates. Armed with a strict and limited budget, the Singapore Navy sought to rectify this misperception and reposition a career in the Navy as one that values those with the smarts. And more importantly, increase the number of leads while identifying individuals with attributes that are valued in the Navy.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

People with the smarts relish a good challenge. One that demands ingenuity, problem-solving skills, and the ability to see solutions that are otherwise invisible to others – the very attributes the Navy is looking for. To reach and excite students who possess these attributes, we issued them a test directly by mailing out the very thing we needed them to solve – challenges. Not easy, medium or hard, but EXPERT LEVEL challenges. Seven different challenges with zero instructions – each inspired by one of the seven Naval Expert vocations. Those who successfully cracked the puzzles were recognised and invited to attend a Navy Career Seminar. The few who had the appetite to solve all challenges were further rewarded. This also allowed the Navy to filter out and identify quality applicants.

Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)

When it comes to advertising military careers, all uniformed services tend to portray themselves as “alternative, non-deskbound career pathways”, depicted by physically intensive, albeit impressive situations. Unfortunately, the category reinforces society’s perception and the stereotypes of what a military career entails. To challenge this misperception and convince Gen Z students that a career as a Naval Expert involves mental rigour, the Navy had to show it recognises their worth as critical thinkers and problem-solvers. We had to position the Navy as an organisation that values intelligence and resourcefulness in all its different forms – ‘If you have the smarts, you are probably Navy material’. Through our conversations with Gen Z students, we learnt they are intrinsically curious and competitive people. When provoked with a challenge, they are less likely to back away from it, and more likely to rise up to it – and that’s exactly what we did.

Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)

The campaign begins with a set of physical cards, but takes the recipient through seven distinct challenges that require all sorts of ingenuity; solving a cipher reveals a QR code that leads them to an online video featuring an Expert describing their specialised vocation and providing them with a codeword. Upon watching the videos, recipients are presented the registration form for a Navy career seminar; entering all seven codes unlocks an extra incentive by way of a mystery gift. In line with the covert nature of military documents and assets, we packaged the puzzles in a sleek case shrouded in mystery and carried an air of exclusivity. This allowed us to stand out in a sea of traditional, formulaic direct mailers. Inside, all seven puzzles were embellished with futuristic design elements, indicative of the state-of-the-art warfare systems and weapons placed under the charge of Naval Experts in the Navy.

List the results (30% of vote)

The campaign was a success on all fronts, generating nearly 2.3 million impressions. Perceptions of a career as a Naval Expert saw noticeable improvement. Research showed that among students who had seen the campaign, 76% had a better understanding of the challenges faced by Naval Experts and 71% indicated an improvement in impressions of a career in the Navy. But what truly marked the success of the campaign was outperforming previous campaigns in terms of generating actual leads and increasing the pool size of potential candidates. There was a 26% increase in the number of students strongly interested in embarking on a career in the Navy. This expression of interest translated to tangible results as the number of registrations increased by 120% from the previous campaign.