Air Force Uses Cutting-edge Tech to Reach Recruits - Event Marketer

Air Force Uses Cutting-edge Tech to Reach Recruits

Agency: GSD&M
Year: 2010

Signing up recruits during time of war is a challenge that the U.S. Air Force is overcoming by reaching its target (17- to 27-year-olds) through engaging experiences and cutting-edge technology. Its mission is to educate potential recruits about all aspects of the Air Force and show them that the Force is about much more than flying fighter jets.

The program, called Project Supercar, paired Air Force mechanics with Galpin Auto Sports (featured on MTV’s “Pimp My Ride”) to create two high-tech vehicles—a Ford Mustang “X-1” and Dodge Challenger “Vapor”—that showed young men and women how a career in the Force is like a career working on the sleekest and most technologically advanced vehicles on the market. Thanks to Galpin’s participation, the campaign gained instant street cred with its target audience. And the technological aspects of the program facilitated drive data collection that has helped the Air Force meet its recruitment goals early.

The main target for this particular program was a category the Air Force calls “Tech Tinkerers,” who thrive when given the chance to work with mechanics and technology. The experience started in a non-traditional way—it collected data first, before consumers entered the footprint. Attendees registered by taking a “What’s your ride?” survey, a fun interactive quiz that matched their personality with a type of car. The survey segmented kids into three buckets based on their level of technical propensity, and they got colored wristbands based on that information. They could scan their wristbands at a digital rewards kiosk or send content to their phone, including ringtones, car specs and wallpapers. Recruiters could also engage with them based on their wristband color.

Inside each mobile tour was a 42-inch touch-screen TV that visitors could use to explore videos documenting the building of the supercars. Guests could then explore Air Force careers using five touch-screen kiosks that navigated like iPhones. The experience extended online to a robust website that provided fans with more behind-the-scenes video and downloadable content, like stickers, posters, DVDs of the documentary and much more.

The on- and offline program was a success, with more than 16,000 people having face-to-face contact with the cars in six months; 4,834 (30 percent) of those turned into qualified leads. And 65 percent of visitors who experienced the tours last year claimed to have an increased perception that the Air Force is technologically advanced; 40 percent reported learning more about the variety of mechanical careers offered by the Air Force. The program also crossed continents and has been covered by more than 130 media outlets in six countries.

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