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

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?


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