LIVE ISSUE/THE WELFARE TO WORK CAMPAIGN: Can St Luke’s sell Welfare to Work to the public? - Promoting Labour’s plan to tackle unemployment is a tricky brief
By KAREN YATES, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 28 November 1997 12:00AM
Give us an advertising campaign that tells young unemployed people that if they don’t get off their butts and work they’ll lose benefits.
Give us an advertising campaign that tells young unemployed people
that if they don’t get off their butts and work they’ll lose
Persuade companies to cough up cash for yet another
get-them-off-the-streets initiative and finally - here comes the easy
bit - sell it to the public.
Last week, Labour’s New Deal for the unemployed, Welfare to Work,
officially lobbed an pounds 18 million, three-year contract into the lap
of St Luke’s.
It is a fairy-tale victory in which adland’s pet co-operative romped
home at long odds to carry off New Labour’s biggest advertising launch
since coming to power in May.
But once the Stakeholder Society rhetoric has died down, St Luke’s will
be left with what, on the face of it, looks like a brief from hell: the
daunting task of drumming up enthusiasm for yet another employment
scheme among a populace that thinks YOP is a new brand of yoghurt.
In essence, Labour’s New Deal is a wonderfully Robin Hood-esque scheme
under which the Government will take pounds 3.5 billion in a windfall
tax on the privatised utilities and spend it on jobs or training for the
18- to 24-year-old unemployed. The aim is to cream off the surpluses of
fat cats to prevent the growth of an underclass - the group of
dispossessed youngsters who might otherwise never know the rigours of
work or training.
But companies - and the general public - have been down this road
First the YOP (Youth Opportunity Programme), then the Youth Training
Scheme (YTS), followed by Job Start ...
So, how can you get anyone to take ’son of YOP’ seriously, never mind
stump up both money and time for it? Appropriately enough for a
co-operative, St Luke’s has come up with a caring-sharing kind of
solution: get everyone to take the blame.
’The breakthrough came when we realised that unemployment is everyone’s
problem,’ Kate Stanners, a joint creative director at the agency and one
of the team involved in the pitch, explains. ’It’s everyone’s
responsibility to look after the future of Britain.’
The campaign will make strong use of the fact the New Deal has been
constructed so that the Government will meet industry and young people
half way - but only if they’ve made the effort as well.
It will feature people from companies supporting the scheme, such as the
St Luke’s clients, Midland Bank and Northern Foods. They will say, ’I do
it. What can you do? I put my effort on the table, can you double it?’,
Stanners says. But at the same time it will emphasise the human side of
these people. The fact that they are mothers, fathers and brothers, as
well as captains of industry; that unemployment is not just something
that happens to others, it could happen to their families too.
The nuts and bolts of the scheme are that next spring, youngsters who
have been on the dole for more than six months will be offered four
options: full-time training, a job, a place on an environmental scheme
or voluntary work. Actually, there’s also a fifth option: if you
unreasonably turn down any of these you face a cut in benefits. In other
words, it’s a stick and carrot scenario.
Labour has already approached Britain’s top 50 companies about their
side of the bargain. In return for creating a job for the New Deal
youth, companies will get pounds 60 a week in a subsidy towards the wage
packet and a one-off pounds 750 training grant. For its part, each
company must commit one day a week for training the new employee. There
will also be a number of other safeguards to prevent the abuse of this
system, although exact details of these have yet to be announced.
The advertising will be aimed principally at industry, according to
David Abraham, St Luke’s marketing director. ’There are 30,000 people in
the employment service and they can help to market the scheme to the
young unemployed. But commitment from business is critical so this
campaign will be aimed primarily at them.’
The advertising will have to speak to the nation on two levels - factual
and emotional. In other words, it must not only spell out the benefits
of the deal, but also get as many people as possible to feel responsible
for, and willing to do, something about the growing problem of youth
It’s a tricky task but Abraham, predictably, is convinced that the New
Deal - and its advertising - will succeed where others have failed. It
will work, he says, first because so much cash is being thrown at it -
much more than for schemes under the previous government which, he
argues, were more for show than real social change. Second, it is a
fundamental part of Labour’s strategy and is being co-ordinated at the
highest level of Government (pitches were made to the Chancellor, Gordon
Brown). Third, with the UK in mildly expansionist mode rather than in
recession, the time is right to fund new jobs.
Abraham is also convinced the campaign to sell the New Deal to the
public will be a winner because it will be ’non-governmental’.
’We were successful in this pitch because nothing we presented resembled
anything a government had done before,’ he said.
The Government will spend pounds 50 million on marketing the programme,
of which pounds 18 million has been earmarked for advertising. Most of
this - pounds 11 million - will be spent by the end of next year on a
campaign that is TV-led and heavily supported by print work.
Meanwhile, the scheme itself launches in January in so-called pathfinder
or pilot areas, with the rest of the country following suit as from
Finally, a fact from Abraham. Did you know that one-third of all young
unemployed have at least one A level?
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk