Public Affairs: Unemployed youth join the Battlefront

Channel 4's online and TV series Battlefront followed a group of young activists focusing on the issue of youth unemployment. The campaigners wanted to launch a scheme called 'Ready for Work' that matches companies with work experience candidates. EdenCancan was hired to promote the initiative and the message behind it.

Ready for work: Campaigners queue at at jobcentre
Ready for work: Campaigners queue at at jobcentre

Campaign: 'Ready for Work' youth unemployment campaign
Client: Channel 4 Education/Battlefront
PR team: EdenCancan
Timescale: October 2011
Budget: £16,000

 

Objectives

  • To ensure the campaigners' message was heard by the public, while also securing the Government's support for the work experience scheme
  • To get more than 50 businesses to offer work placements
  • To show young people in a positive light by highlighting their motivation for joining the workforce
  •  To encourage young people to use the scheme
  • To increase the viewership of Battlefront online and on Channel 4.

Strategy and plan

The PR team timed activity to coincide with the release of the Government's official statistics on youth unemployment.

To attract attention, a photo stunt was staged, recreating the 1978 'Labour Isn't Working' poster at a Jobcentre Plus with 50 young unemployed people dressed in suits, bowler hats and carrying briefcases. The group then marched to Westminster, where a second photocall was held. Chanting and holding placards, they asked to meet employment minister Chris Grayling, before revealing a '973,000 ready for work' sign.

Musical artists Ms Dynamite and Charlie Simpson were recruited to appeal to young people, social media and key target Metro. Campaigners Joseph Hayat and Hafsah Ali received media training as case studies and were offered to the press to give an authentic perspective on the issue. Following the campaign, they discussed the initiative at the Conservative Party conference with Hugh Grant and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith. They were also invited to Young Persons' Question Time to talk with Labour MP Stella Creasy and TV presenter Kate Walsh, who appeared in The Apprentice.

Measurement and evaluation

The campaign received widespread coverage. Articles appeared in print including The Guardian, The Times, i and Metro. Broadcast coverage included BBC Breakfast, Sky News Sunrise and LBC Radio. The campaign was also covered by international media outlets, such as Wall Street Journal Blogs and CNN, among others.

Results

During the campaign period, Battlefront's website was viewed 750,000 times, achieving 166,000 hits the week the group marched to Westminster. Ninety per cent of media coverage included a mention of Battlefront or the series' website, all of which was positive.

Overall, 6,283 people signed up for the 'Ready for Work' initiative and more than 60 firms agreed to support the scheme by offering work placements, including HMV, Burger King and Manchester City FC. Jobcentre Plus decided to run 1,000 work placements for young people, while the Government introduced a work experience scheme for young people on Jobseeker's Allowance.

SECOND OPINION 

NEIL GADHOK, ACCOUNT DIRECTOR, INSIGHT PUBLIC AFFAIRS

Although a bit cliched, the 'Labour Isn't Working' photo stunt had a counter-intuitive slant that had the potential to play well.

While it could be criticised for being politically confusing - it was originally a Conservative Party attack ad against the Labour Party - it remains a captivating image and one that picture editors would relish.

However, dressing people in hats, suits and briefcases could be thought of as being a bit patronising and hardly reflected the variety of businesses the campaign was targeting.

Key to the campaign's success was the integration of media, cross-party lobbying and wide range of celebrities, from Ms Dynamite to Hugh Grant.

Basically, it was a something for everyone campaign. While this ran the risk of diluting the message, the media cut-through showed that, in this case, the variety won out.

Particularly impressive then was that 60 high-profile firms signed up to offer work placements. Overall, this was an effective campaign delivered on a tight budget.

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