Wednesday November 15th 2017
From augmented reality to apps and chatbots, companies are coming up with more and more ways to persuade the young generation to join their ranks and promote their image as employer brands. And the French air force’s new recruitment campaign takes this one step further.
In order to position itself as an attractive employer, the air force rewrote its advertising language in June – adopting a more documentary, photojournalistic style. Now it has released a TV, cinema and digital series called “Pilots: True Stories”, supported by press and billboard coverage and designed to provide a real insight into the everyday lives of serving men and women, their doubts, enthusiasm, fears, pride, sense of commitment, and so on. Working with longstanding agency Havas Paris, the air force stepped the infotainment level up a gear by branching out into the field of digital comics, using a clever mix of still and animated frames. The content was created by two young authors, Vincent Milhaguet and Camille Prieur, who were spotted at the Angoulême International Comics Festival.
3,000 recruits a year
The French air force needs to recruit more than 3,000 people a year until 2020 in order to fulfil its duties and prepare for the future. Its recruitment requirements have doubled since 2014 due to greater operational commitments and the president’s decision to increase numbers in the armed forces following the terrorist attacks in 2015, the development of new programmes such as drones and Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), and its involvement in supporting exports. The force is recruiting for more than 50 different roles across its aeronautical arm (pilots, navigators, mechanics, controllers, and so on), its operational arm (intelligence experts, commandos, computer engineers, network and telecomms technicians, and so on), and for support roles (sports instructors, English teachers, HR managers, and so on). It is therefore looking for a wide range of profiles, from school leavers to graduates, with or without experience, for positions of all levels of responsibility. Most recruitment is targeted at 17 to 25-year-olds, with certain positions open to candidates up to the age of 30. There are 41 air force Armed Forces Information and Recruitment Centres (CIRFA) available for interested candidates.
A digital comic with still and animated frames
Created by two young authors, Vincent Milhaguet and Camille Prieur, who won an award at this year’s Angoulême International Comics Festival, working under Havas Paris Brand Experience Creative Director Eric Huc, the “Pilots: True Stories” comic provides a glimpse into the life of an engineer officer called Thierry, on the day when he was tasked with recovering a Mirage 2000D bomber that had gone down right in the middle of enemy territory in Afghanistan. Working alongside the US Marines and with a team of volunteers, in hellish conditions, he managed to bring the “little piece of France” back in just a few hours. The still frames alternate with GIFs, to add dynamism and make the reader feel more immersed in the story.
Digital comics: a winning format**
Digital comics are the most pirated online editorial category in France, read by 29 per cent of ordinary comic readers aged 18 to 24 and 23 per cent of those aged 25 to 29. More than half (53 per cent) of digital comic readers say they have bought one within the past year. Today, 80 per cent of new comics, 70 per cent of recent stock and 50 per cent of older stock is available in a digital format, as an e-book or via streaming, on an increasing number of platforms. Some authors now only write digital comics, and interest from retailers such as Amazon and Fnac shows that the market has potential.
Combining information, emotion and entertainment
In June, the air force launched its new recruitment campaign and employer brand – adopting a more documentary style. Created by Charles-Antoine de Rouvre, “Pilots: True Stories” is a powerful piece of audiovisual infotainment. The five to seven-minute snapshots of six pilots on exercise strike the right tone of voice for young people and are adapted for the channels they use: TV, cinema, social networks and digital. A photojournalistic angle is used for the press and billboard coverage. The campaign is designed to inform and persuade younger people and influencers, especially parents and teaching staff.
* Winners of third prize at the Angoulême International Comics Festival 2017 and authors of El Magni co (published by Onslaught Press) and the digital comics L’Odyssée 2.0 (“Odyssey 2.0”) and La Quête des Sept (“The Quest of the Seven”).
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