In the health and social care sector, the impact of the coronavirus was immediate and huge. Even before government restrictions came into place, healthcare needs soared. Devon County Council and Proud to Care Devon asked us to help recruit the right people to grow their workforce, fast.

Proud to Care knew that health and care workers were undervalued before the pandemic struck. Young people in particular were not considering a career in the sector due to preconceptions about a lack of variety and benefits. Proud to Care wanted to change these preconceptions. They identified Generation Z as the target audience to fill their vacancies.

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Film/ Advertising/ Digital Marketing/ Content strategy
AB have once again been a pleasure to work with and we are very proud of the finished product. AB has played a valuable part in Proud to Care Devon’s response to COVID-19. They’ve reacted quickly to our brief, proposed three strong creative ideas and worked round the clock to deliver a challenging campaign within a very tight deadline.
Rebecca Bond, Senior Communications and Marketing Officer

Reaching Gen Z

Our research told us that Gen Z (people born between 1995 and 2010) are looking for more than a job. They want to find a fulfilling role that provides a sense of purpose and offers long-term prospects.

When it comes to marketing, Gen Z do not buy into inauthentic advertising or idealised representations of young people shown by brands. After all, they are used to authentic, user-generated, short videos made for platforms such as TikTok.

However, we found there were hardly any young people represented in the region’s existing health and care marketing and recruitment materials.

We needed to think differently from the rest of the sector and focus on authenticity to engage the Gen Z audience.

Strategic digital campaign

The pandemic altered our audience’s behaviour, with 58% of Gen Z and millennials increasing the time they spent on online media. Fifty per cent of Gen Z and millennials increased the amount of streaming video they watch on mobile phones (this fell to 18% for other age groups).1

This was the perfect context in which to create short-form content for digital advertising and social media marketing. We therefore created short, digestible films for delivery on social media.

Real people, real stories

To appeal to our audience and give our creative real impact, we steered clear of stock imagery and footage. Our idea was to film interviews with young health and care workers currently working in Devon. We wanted to show what it was really like to work in this sector: the good, the bad and the ugly.

We spent time with each individual, speaking to them about the challenges they faced – the sad or hard times, as well as the inspiring moments. We asked them about the times that made them think this was the only role for them. Some recorded their own footage on their phones, which emphasised the truth of the campaign.

“It was such an inspiring film shoot,” said AB’s Creative Director Marcus Bennett. “To hear the stories about life on hospital wards, the resilience and compassion these heroes show on a daily basis, how they offer hope or a shoulder to cry on for people in some of their darkest moments – it really was amazing. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house for most of the day!”

We tested our messaging and videos to create the best opportunity for success. We optimised the campaign by adjusting the messaging, audience targeting and budgets. We carefully monitored the sector, the competition and the context in which our ads were running.


We also leveraged local partnerships to amplify the campaign through a broad range of channels.

This activity helped us beat all of Devon County Council’s targets by an average of 220%. The target audience were engaging with the brand like never before. Website visits and site engagement increased hugely, with 172% more new users and 192% more sessions than the previous year.

Devon County Council and Proud to Care received their much-needed job applications from young people with the right values for this vital work. Together, we inspired a generation of young people in Devon to grow their skills and take their first steps on a fulfilling career path.


Our partnership continues, and we’re delighted to be working with both Devon County Council and Proud to Care on further campaigns. This includes recruitment campaigns targeting older age groups, and a public health campaign encouraging schoolchildren to wear face masks to protect the wider community.


We were delighted to be recognised at 2019’s Drum Content Awards for our previous campaign with Proud to Care. Our campaign was Highly Commended in the category for Best Public Sector or Government Content Marketing.

The Drum Content Awards were created to honour the best in modern marketing and we’re ‘proper proud’ to receive our commendation.

1 Source: https://www.warc.com/newsandopinion/news/millennials-and-gen-z-try-new-brands-during-covid-crisis/43992