Youth Rising


Brand love


In the summer of 2020, NCS asked us to help grow participation numbers on the programme, with the ultimate goal of doubling the number of people involved by 2023. Through careful research and insight into the target audience, we were able to build a campaign which delivered a 13% increase in media driven sign-ups YoY and a 10% increase in band love, up to 58%.

NCS youth rising 2 jpg


In order to help grow NCS’ participation numbers, we worked with Future Creatives to better understand our target audience’s motivations and worries.

The research showed that many young people are anxious about their future, and that prioritising their career, saving money and building a strong social media presence are high priorities for them. We found that they were motivated by social change, in particular climate change and mental health, and that 84% of young people want to help others, but only 52% feel they can make a positive difference in their communities. Finally, we found that the media’s negative portrayal of Gen-Z directly impacts their participation in good causes and their motivation to make a difference.

When we examined how young people regarded the NCS programme, we found that many associated it with a school initiative, making participation feel like an un-empowered choice. We also identified that a big way to capture the imagination of young people was through social proof, so we knew we would need to surface more real-life stories from participants if we wanted to make the NCS programme a desirable option.


We could see a lot of crossover between what we found young people cared about and the work NCS does. We needed to reframe NCS to reiterate that it makes a positive difference in the world, brining their social action and volunteering projects to the forefront of comms.

To make this happen, we developed NCS YOUTH RISING, a multi-platform documentary series celebrating the impact of NCS with authentic stories of social action.

We enlisted the help of four different media partners to recruit inspirational young people from across the country with a hunger to invoke change.

The lead partner was Channel 4. We became the first brand to partner with True Stories on E4 online, creating four films which tackle key social issues: fast fashion, food waste, youth spaces and mental health. Each film followed a key NCS disruptor from different cities across the UK.

We also partnered with Kyra’s YouTube collective PAQ, challenging the team to create the most fashionable outfits from sustainable sources, and GUAP, with whom we created a five-minute film and supporting editorial to highlight the change that some young people are making in their local areas. For this series, we revisited one of the stars from the C4 True Stories, as well as two other local heroes in Manchester and Birmingham. By working with GUAP and Kyra, we were able to further extend our reach in a famously hard-to-reach audience.

We didn’t stop at visual content though. We worked with Somethin’ Else to create a 16-week Youth Rising podcast. We recruited 23 young people from across the country to research, write, report, produce and edit the podcast. Each episode tackled two issues or topics, from mental health in young men, feminism and loneliness to prison reform and social diversity in football. Even the pandemic didn’t stop the podcast – in fact, in recognition of the increased need for support in a time of uncertainty, NCS reshaped production, allowing the teams to work remotely and to adapt content to include discussions on how the pandemic was affecting them.

Finally, to demonstrate true authenticity, we worked on the NCS YOUTH RISING Legacy. We wanted to go beyond branded content and create something that would make real, lasting change. We created four long-lasting projects in four different locations across the UK; a newly renovated basketball court in Walthamstow, a brand-new music studio in Hull, a free pop-up restaurant for local people to help conquer food waste in Liverpool, and a swap shop for people looking to trade in their unwanted clothes with others in Plymouth.


Youth Rising was part of an overall rebrand and recruitment campaign for NCS’s summer 2020 programme. The success of our campaign was measured on two key metrics: number of sign ups and brand love/affinity amongst young people.

Overall, our campaign exceeded expectations and saw:

  • 13% increase in signups vs. 2019.
  • Our Brand Tracker run by Youth Sight also saw brand love increase by 10% to 58% of young people
  • Those aware of the podcast reported the highest levels of brand love across every campaign touchpoint - 76% (v 58%)

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