The National Crime Agency is responsible for leading the UK’s fight to cut serious and organized crime. The agency’s focus is on the big threats—targeting and pursuing serious and organized crime and criminals who pose the greatest risk to the UK. The work is hugely complex, high-level and large scale. Officers operate at the forefront of law enforcement, building intelligence, pursuing the most serious and dangerous offenders and developing and delivering specialist capabilities for partner organizations.
It could have been an impressive proposition for the 1,500 investigators and other professionals the NCA wanted to recruit. But the NCA was competing with MI5, MI6, GCHQ and police forces for this talent. The intelligence organizations could be considered “sexier” brands. The police forces are better known and understood.
The NCA had been flying under the radar and needed to arrive on the scene with a bang. They turned to PeopleScout for a confident, attention-grabbing campaign to put their employer brand front-of-mind for their target audience.
We conducted wide-ranging qualitative interviews and focus groups with key people across the agency in order to really get under the skin of the human experience of working there.
The key insights were:
- When NCA investigators succeed the impact is huge and far-reaching. The criminal activity they stop covers everything from child sexual abuse to illegal firearms trafficking, cyber crime, kidnapping and extortion. The police, by contrast, have to deal with everything from shoplifting upwards.
- A lot of the criminals the NCA targets feel they are untouchable. It’s very exciting to prove they are not.
- The work is exciting, and we shouldn’t underplay that.
- Investigators are often serving police officers or have strong links to policing. They rarely engage with usual recruitment channels, so we needed to think differently.
- The agency saw location as key—they were keen to recruit candidates close to the locations of their regional offices.
The Core Message
To work in crowded streets and packed transit stations, our campaign needed to have immediate visual impact. The NCA hunts the big fish of the criminal world. So, we chose the shark as a perfect visual metaphor to illustrate the level of criminality the agency handles; it’s the ultimate hidden predator with a fin that creates an emotional reaction.
Our visuals show a huge shark fin bursting through the ground, towering over well-known landmarks and wreaking havoc in recognizable, urban UK locations in London and Manchester. Each visual represented the scale of damage caused by high-level crime, while storm clouds provided a suitable dark and menacing backdrop. These visuals were complemented with a simple message: No predator too big.
We focused the recruitment campaign on outdoor media to reach the widest possible audience in our target areas. We identified outdoor locations that serve police officers on their daily commute—for example, Manchester Piccadilly station and the Metro line to Greater Manchester Police HQ—in addition to specialist online media.
We rolled out the campaign for digital, data, tech and specialist firearms audiences. The results were very impressive:
29,684 candidates to the NCA landing page.
15,703 applications across 143 roles.
2,228 candidates invited to interview.
225 job offers.
825 held in talent pool awaiting job offers.
This was a hugely successful campaign which drove a large number of applications. We exceeded NCA’s expectations, raised awareness of the NCA as an alternative employer for serving police officers and improved perceptions of the NCA as an employer with a unique offering.
AT A GLANCE
- COMPANY: National Crime Agency (NCA)
- PEOPLESCOUT SOLUTIONS: Talent Advisory
- LOCATIONS: Regional offices in the UK’s urban centers
- About NCA: The National Crime Agency (NCA) is a national law enforcement agency in the UK focused on fighting organized crime, trafficking, cybercrime and fraud.