Helping the Air Force find their next batch of Fighter Pilots


The Air Force were looking for a smarter way to attract the next bread of fighter pilots with the current barries in place:

Audience Perspective:   

  • Many see the defence forces as a highly risky life choice ie you have to go to war
  • Aviation enthusiast had heard that the fighter pilot application process is extremely difficult and there is a big chance you might fail
  • Some prospects choose the commercial airline route without considering how great a career as an Air Force pilot can be

Operational Perspective:   

  • Previously targeting fighter pilots and other types of Air Force pilots (surveillance pilots or mobility pilots etc) was always done as separate campaigns

The task was to overcome these challenge by developing a customer centred experience that increased the amount of job applications for Air Force Pilots on the Defence Jobs website.


Behavioural Profiles
Behavioural profiles of potential prospects were created to help the Air Force better understand the different mindset barriers we needed to overcome. They included  “Fighter Pilot Die Hard”, Misguided Aviation Enthusiast”, Commercial Airline Struggler” and “Fast Strategic Thinker”. They all had different needs and motivations.

Strategy & Experience Design
There were 2 key parts to the strategy to overcome the audience barriers:

1.    De-risking the pathway to become a fighter pilot
Fear of failure in the process was the number one barrier for prospects applying for a career as a fighter pilot. We overcame this by showing the fighter pilot role as a collective with the other Air Force pilot roles, eg survailance pilot and mobility pilot roles. This showed them that if they didn’t make it through as a fighter pilot there were other options, reducing the risk of applying. It was the first time they had promoted those roles alongside each other.

2.    Demonstrating how an Air Force Pilot career is the most exciting pilot option
For prospects considering a pilot career with commercial airlines we needed to show them that becoming an Air Force pilot was “real flying” compared to sitting in a cabin on cruise control for 5-10 hours. We created a comparison between the Air Force, commercial and general aviation pathways to show that joining the Air Force was more exciting as well as more financially beneficial for the first 15 years of your career. It was the first time the Air Force had ever compared themselves to the other options.


36% increase in applications in the next year after the initiative launched.

Note: Founder of Customer Smarts Justin Stafford completed the strategic part of this work and oversaw creative and technical development on contract to HAVAS group.