Royal Air Force

No Ordinary Job

For over 100 years, the Royal Air Force (RAF) has defended the skies of Britain and projected Britain’s power and influence around the world. In 2019 and following a highly competitive tender pitch process, Identity were appointed as the retained experiential events agency to lead on the planning, design and build in excess of 300 RAF recruitment outreach events per annum.

Each year, the RAF need to recruit a significant number of people to meet operational needs. This complex and ever-evolving events programme which has a requirement to be flexible, agile and scalable (with events often happening simultaneously), is managed exclusively by a core Identity team of six event experts.

In 2020, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on face-to-face and in-person events became clear, Identity elegantly repositioned their events delivery model from physical to virtual for the RAF, to ensure that the recruitment pipeline could be maintained.

Strategy & Delivery

The RAF’s main target audience is the 16-24 year-old demographic, a segmentation which presents many challenges, being both a key demo and one often shielded by gatekeepers. Identity developed a number of innovative approaches for audience acquisition, based on audience insight gathered through evaluation and data at events, ensuring the RAF deliver meaningful engagement opportunities which resonate with the target audience.

The RAF use a variety of ‘attractors’ at events to enrich the visitor experience and increase the level of interest and conversion rates for potential candidates. These attractors are managed and deployed by Identity across the event calendar. They can be both physical, such as full-scale replicas of aircraft like the Chinook helicopter or Hawk aircraft, or digital, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), interactive touchscreens, holograms, games and more.

For major events (where the RAF compete with global brands such as BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and General Dynamics), Identity created an immersive experience demonstrating life in the Royal Air Force, to rise above the exhibition noise and drive target audience footfall. Raising brand awareness is a key consideration for the events strategy and we pinpointed gaming events such as Insomnia as a great opportunity to resonate with the target audience through a fully interactive and engaging stand.

Reaching New Heights

As the full impact of COVID-19 on live events was realised, in early 2020 event delivery refocused wholly on virtual solutions. The RAF has long been passionate about esports and our audience insight underpinned this as an optimal recruitment channel. As part of the RAF Charitable Trust Virtual Air Tattoo, Identity designed and produced a bespoke, RAF branded esports set to facilitate a live streamed esports showcase. Identity delivered the creative ingenuity and entire production at a purpose-built, COVID-19 government guidance compliant broadcast studio. The event was MC’d by a professional esports host and then broadcasted simultaneously via the RAF VGEA Twitch channel. Other elements of this virtual delivery package included behind the scenes footage of a life and career in the RAF, interviews and analysis.

This approach continues to evolve with additional RAF virtual events scheduled for 2020 and into 2021, with the planned evolution towards a hybrid delivery model – a blend of intimate in-person and amplified digital events – already underway.

“Since Identity became the Royal Air Force events contract supplier, we have been very impressed by their professionalism and dedication to the task, as well as the positive personal relationships that have been developed within RAF Marketing and the wider recruiting Recruitment Force.” – Squadron Leader, Marketing Outreach Delivery