This was our third year of working on NHS recruitment campaigns, so we know the client and their challenge inside and out. This means that we can work collaboratively as a tight-knit team to create the most effective and authentic work possible.
With an NHS in crisis, we needed to relaunch its biggest ever recruitment drive amidst England’s second, deadliest, coronavirus lockdown. Perceptions of the NHS as an employer brand had been damaged by years of financial cuts and bursary removals. Our 2018 ‘We are the NHS’ campaign had been a success, reversing a catastrophic 36% decline in university applications.
Amongst our target audience, there was a 15% drop in positive NHS associations, combined with worries around studying or starting new careers in a risky economic. We needed to elevate ‘brand NHS’ away from crisis, rebuild career consideration of NHS careers and drive recruitment.
One universal barrier that emerged across our different target audiences was that plenty wanted to join the NHS but experienced a crisis of confidence that they could do the job. COVID-19 had also morphed this confidence crisis into something more contagious; fear. This fear didn’t just cause doubt, it also impacted action.
Our approach was to put the present fear into perspective with a bigger narrative. The future was unknown, but we could be confident in our past and present endurance. We set out to drive confidence in WE (the future of the NHS) to drive confidence in ME (offsetting anxiety).
To do this we used real people, patients showing the NHS’s story from its foundation 72 years ago to now. ‘Then, now, always” is a rallying call to arms, an authentic celebration of the staff who tirelessly care for the sick, putting their lives on the line. It showcased a modern, innovative organisation that succeeds through crisis.