How Engine boosted recruitment for the Royal Air Force | #BehindTheIdea

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The Air and Space Operations division of the Royal Air Force doesn't get much drama on a day-to-day basis; but when they do, it's as high-stakes as you could ever imagine. The Royal Air Force needed to recruit the right people to help protect the UK's air space, and this is where Engine Creative came in.

The campaign below couldn't have existed without a visit to the Royal Air Force base, which provided the team at Engine with all the necessary small details to spark an idea. When you're immersed in your day-to-day, you fail to notice some of the tiniest things that will make a difference or sound incredibly interesting to anyone outside of your job; what's fascinating is that the video below captures that feeling incredibly well.

Today we are getting Behind the Idea with Christopher Ringsell and David Dearlove, creative directors at Engine Creative, to learn more about this RAF campaign released in January.

What was the brief?

The Royal Air Force needed to recruit into their Air and Space Operations division. These are the people who coordinate all of the RAF’s movements in the air. They are also, as this advert demonstrates, in charge of protecting the UK’s air space. This is a job that doesn’t involve daily drama (although RAF fighter jets are scrambled over the UK more often than you’d imagine). However, when it does, it’s about as high-stakes as one could imagine. They need people who can cope and thrive under that kind of pressure.

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

Before we started writing anything, we needed to really understand the role, so that involved visiting an RAF base where Air and Space operate out of. It’s on those trips that you find out all the small details that feed into crafting an idea.

What was the process behind ideating the concept?

Sat at a table with a pen and paper! When push comes to shove, there’s no other way of doing it.

What was the production process like?

Long! We agreed upon the idea with the client about two weeks before the country locked down for the first Covid wave, which meant it had to be put on ice. We started back up, only for it to be shut down again by the second wave. We had a third go and just managed to squeeze in the shoot two weeks before the Omicrom wave.

What was the biggest challenge during production? How did you overcome it?

Shooting during a pandemic is hard enough, but when you’re dealing with an organisation where some of its workforce cannot afford to catch Covid, made it doubly hard. But restrictions can sometimes lead to better solutions, and with a client that was always willing to help, we worked round most problems.

What kit/tools/software were used to create the project?

This certainly wasn’t a lavish production, so no excessive CGI or motion control cameras were employed. Instead it was down to the talents of our DoP, David Bird and producer, Max Thomas, who managed to create something that looks far more expensive than it is.

What is one funny or notable thing that happened during production?

I would not say it’s funny but you always have to remember the fact that you are shooting on working bases and anything can happen. We were waiting to film a fighter jet night flight-sortie (fighter jet exercise) when we realised the two jets we were waiting for were given other orders. You have to adapt and react in the moment and we ended up shooting the previous squadron coming in to land and taxi to try and get our shot.

What’s the main message of this project and why does it matter?

The RAF needs people who can perform and thrive under pressure. It matters because, if something serious ever did happen, these will be the people protecting us.

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

Two years, allowing for the pandemic!

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

We hope it helps shine a light on the exciting and important roles with Air & Space Operations. 

Credit list for the work?

Director - David Dearlove
Creative - David Dearlove
Creative Director - Chris Ringsell 
Head of Strategy - Matt Rhodes
Planner - Alpesh Patel 
Account Management - Olivia Conroy
Agency Producer - Max Thomas
Head of Film - Melody Sylvester
Executive Producer - Hayley Denning
Director/ Production Company - David Dearlove / Engine Film
Producer - Max Thomas at Engine Film
Editor - Sam Hopkins at Engine Film
Colourist - Toby Tomkins at Cheat
Sound - Factory
Sound Design - Phil Bolland at Factory
VFX - David Clifton
DoP - David Bird at Lux Artists


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