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2023 One Show - Radio & Audio

The Audio Ad You Can See

Agency VMLY&R Australia + Squeak E. Clean Studios

Client Defence Force Recruiting - Navy


Custom Content

Annual ID


About the Work

The Australian Navy needed to recruit Electronic Spectrum System Operators. It’s an intelligence role that’s difficult to recruit for and involves identifying threats by manipulating frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum – also known as The Invisible Battlefield. So, that’s where we ran our ad. With a small budget for social media, we created a single audio file that was so much more than something to listen to. We challenged people to analyse it, decode it, manipulate its frequency content and discover its hidden message – a recruitment poster, painted with sound. The Audio Ad You Can See is 56 seconds of audio. But hidden inside the audio is an image – our recruitment ad. To 99% of Australians, all they would hear is sound. But the 1% we needed to talk to would see our ad. The audio needed to be processed with a spectrogram. It’s a tool that analyses frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum and is used by tech experts to analyse sound. It’s also used by the Navy to analyse frequencies and identify threats that can’t be seen. Only those with the right problem-solving abilities could find the hidden message and get the direct link to the job listing. The result was an audio ad that was also a print ad, a social post, user-generated content, a direct recruitment campaign, and an innovative way for the Australian Navy to find its new intelligence recruits. This was one of the Navy’s most successful direct recruitment campaigns. On social media, it had more interactions than any other organic post from Australia’s Defence Forces with 512% more impressions, resulting in 80 times more engagement with the job listing, all from high quality candidates. The Audio Ad You Can See gave high quality candidates an experience that went beyond listening to an ad or looking at a poster – it put them in the shoes on an Electronic Spectrum Systems Operator and helped them imagine an intelligence career in the Navy.

2023 Awards

Total Points: 3




VMLY&R Australia

Music / Sound Production Company

Squeak E. Clean Studios

Chief Creative Officer

Paul Nagy

Creative Director

James Wills
Robyn Bergmann


Simon Gray


Leigh Cooke

Executive Creative Director

Jake Barrow

Executive Producer

Ceri Davies

Account Director

Meaghan de Laurier

Account Executive

Jess Osrin

Account Manager

Madeleine Moorhead

Head of Sound

Paul Le Couteur

Navy Brand Portfolio Manager

Jess Goggin

Navy Brand Portfolio Manager (acting)

Anjali Bakaya

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