NCS is a 2-4-week residential programmed designed to increase the sociability of young people in order to improve cohesion across the whole of society. With significant financial support, NCS is the single biggest government investment in young people nationally. But there was a problem: after three years of growth, participation in the voluntary programme declined. Simply put, the brand was rapidly losing relevance with young people.

We had to translate this government programme into a meaningful and compelling benefit for a new generation, a generation of young people that was depending on us right now. This is a story of rapid reinvention and reinvigoration.

How we helped

To overcome the rapidly diminishing brand relevance we established three strategic priorities:

1. Reinvent the brand by making NCS purposeful for young people today
2. Reinvigorate engagement by creating a movement in youth culture
3. Reignite participation to make NCS a rite of passage for every generation

Our bespoke research took the form of an innovative national youth panel. The panel made up exclusively of 15-17-year-olds were involved through the entire development process. From the in-depth FaceTime calls to understand them, to the workshops to learn from them, to the in-home ethnography to create with them, every strategic and creative decision was led by the audience.

We created a connected creative platform: NCS incites independence in young people by turning a lifetime of being told they’re too young, into a collective voice that tells the world what they can achieve.

Working with our youth panel we co-created, united and amplified their voice, using it as a rallying cry to all young people, to turn no you can’t, into ‘No We Can’.

What happened next

To deliver on the strategic principles, every interaction between NCS and young people was reviewed to align with the new brand and creative articulation. But the movement doesn’t stop with a rally call, a comprehensive digital campaign was designed to encourage young people to sign up. Short-form digital assets were crafted to promote triggers and ease the barriers to NCS, targeting the right audience at the right time to optimise sign ups.

We equipped the NCS network with a new dynamic and engaging school assembly, designed to counteract the school environment and improve engagement and sign ups.

Lastly, to ensure it becomes a rite of passage it is vital young people turn up. With a possible six-month lag between sign up and turn up, we redefined the CRM journey and content to ensure NCS built the excitement for the programme itself. Content was focused on dramatizing the experience of NCS through richer stories and testimonials from NCS graduates.


We’ve smashed our targets, bucking the declining trend in growth to a significant 33% increase YOY, setting NCS well on track to reach its ambitious targets of 1 in 3 teenagers by 2022.

• 60k young people signed up

• 33% increase in sign-ups YOY

• 2.5m clicks to the website

• Display click through rate is 5x industry benchmark

• 463m impressions delivered

Within 6 months, we reinvented the end-to-end NCS experience for young people. Fundamentally shifting the relevance of NCS from a government programme that teens should do, to a youth brand that young people want to do.


Sign-ups to the NCS programme