Apprenticeships had a reputation problem. The term ‘apprenticeship’ had become synonymous with ‘second- rate’, or ‘Plan B’, or ‘blue-collar’. Statistics reflected this apathy, with intakes showing a steady year-on-year decline. A common phrase in research was ‘not for me’. This was echoed by employers (‘not for my business’) and parents (‘not for my child’). The client was also running three separate campaigns for candidates, employers and parents creating a broken customer experience. This was causing an enormous conversion drop off between awareness and action, resulting in only 3% of their engaged audience visiting the website taking any action.

We needed to make three key changes:

1) Align all audiences around a single creative platform.

2) Create an integrated service experience.

3) Design a comms plan to reach an unreachable audience.



Single Creative Platform: In order to combat the reputation crisis of Apprenticeships, the work needed to be emotionally, rather than rationally-led. What united both apprentices and employers was their shared energy and passion. For an apprentice it is what they bring and for an employer it is what they want. This audience insight led us to our idea and worked across multiple channels.

An Integrated Service Experience: We needed to address the huge drop in conversions. This required a single unified experience for all audiences. We embedded our UX capabilities, design and content creatives into the ESFA in Coventry – the team responsible for development and delivery of the National Apprenticeships service, to ensure a seamless customer journey.

A Communications Plan Designed to Reach the Unreachable: In order to engage a generation hell-bent on avoiding traditional paid media channels, we created a partnership ecosystem, that would engage the right demographic at the right time.

IDEA: Fire It Up


The launch television campaign features two lead characters on their journeys to work, making their way to Busta Rhymes’ ‘Fire It Up’ - electricity sparking their surroundings. The spark effect gives a super-hero quality to those it emanates from. This memorable metaphor for their passion is backed up with bold headlines such as ‘We blaze our own trail’, ‘We bring the energy’ and ‘We are ready now’.

The creative platform put 12 apprentices at the heart of the campaign, driving authenticity and trust. It lived across a through the line campaign strategy; with the spark featuring across television, cinema and VOD, out of home executions, digital display, social media, search and partner toolkits. Additionally, the new website,, is now a hub that provides clarity in an overcrowded online market and a clear path to applications.

As part of the second phase, creative, media and strategy worked hand-in-hand to target hard-to-reach audiences - placement is everything. This phase saw a collaboration with Jamal Edwards build connections and engage with young people on their level, as well as engaging with parents, teachers and employers through an integrated partnership with The Guardian. Additionally, Spotify created and distributed bespoke radio ads on their streaming platform, further strengthening apprenticeships appeal amongst young people. This was supported by extensive PR activity and together this allowed us to reach previously unengaged, seemingly uninterested audiences in an unexpected way.


DfE: Apprenticeships - Fire It Up

Apprenticeships had a reputation problem. The term ‘apprenticeship’ had become synonymous with ‘second- rate’, or ‘Plan B’, or ‘blue-collar’. Statistics reflected this apathy, with intakes showing a steady year-on-year decline. We needed to change this.

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