The RAF should think ‘vertical’ in advertising

Congratulations to Delaney Lund Knox Warren & partners on its recent appointment by the RAF, and good luck to it as it prepares to sell this “elite flying force” while underplaying the sexy “flying” bit (MW September 9 and September 16). As an ex-RAF officer, I remember my determination to be selected only for “General Duties – Aircrew” when I applied 20 years ago.

But perhaps this same annoying predictability reveals where the root of the solution lies. My ambition was to be a pilot, first, and to join the RAF, second. This principle can be applied to the 60-odd other careers and trades offered by the RAF: create initial interest and desire by focusing on the trades, then close the deal with all that “elite team” stuff.

Coincidentally, this was the strategy proposed by planner Max Raison at TMW a few years ago, aimed first at recruiting engineers, then doctors. This insight – together with some sneaky targeting and D&AD-winning creative work – delivered the numbers and, more importantly, exactly the right kind of candidates. The RAF is smart to target discrete horizontal segments (ethnic and gay communities), but the real answer lies in vertical segments. Then they can trot out the Dambusters music.

Stephen Chandler

Managing director

Feel Agency

London N1

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