Cannes Lions

Sound Skills

WCRS, London / RAF / 2017

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The RAF needed to recruit Intelligence Analysts: people who intercept and analyse hostile communications in a foreign language. They wanted to find young people with a natural talent for picking out details from surrounding noise, but who didn’t know it yet. So we worked with RAF Intelligence to develop Sound Skills: an innovative test of auditory concentration.

Using 3D sound we replicated the world around us in five realistic soundscapes. Then we tested some essential listening skills, like the ability to concentrate on one conversation in the crowded bar, listen to a phone call on the street while being heavily distracted, pick out lyrics from a track or identify a name in foreign football commentary.

The experience used sound technology to its full potential, layering sounds to create realistic and complex audio environments. We then used these environments to test the talent necessary to work as an RAF Intelligence Analyst.


We worked with RAF Intelligence and expert sound engineers to bring the idea to life. We created five realistic soundscapes. Then we applied different techniques to mark the points of information we wanted to be identified, and used binaural sound to stretch focus away from these elements. The use of binaural created a realistic soundscape and brought to life the surrounding environment to distract and test the listener.

Sound Skills was hosted on the RAF recruitment page with supporting ads on Facebook, successfully driving to the target audience to the experience.


The experience proved addictive and rewarding, scoring an average engagement time of over 10 minutes. The RAF had well over 500 applicants for just 36 positions, making it the most successful campaign they’d ever run for that role.

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