National Citizen Service - Youth Rising

NCS Youth Rising

Executive Summary

NCS is a youth empowerment scheme built on the foundations of social action, yet teens don’t currently see it as such. Young people have a genuine desire to help make things better for themselves and others, but they often don’t know how to help, and they don’t often have a platform to talk about issues that matter to them the most

As part of the wider No We Can brand campaign, flipping the traditional control brand into the hands of young people, Youth Rising puts NCS at the forefront of social change and shows teens how they can make a positive difference to the world, no matter their geographic location, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or upbringing.

The Challenge

For Summer 2020 MediaCom was challenged to deliver a recruitment programme and grow the number of participants in the programme by 16% YoY. This is the first phase of a long-term strategy to double the number of young people going through the programme by 2023.

To drive this growth, MediaCom needed to create a significant behaviour change amongst young people and wider society. They needed to make the NCS scheme a rite of passage for young people so that it would become a cultural norm – reinforced by parents, teachers and wider society.

There were 3 main behavioural barriers that their communications needed to overcome:

1. Empower Teens
There are many great reasons for teens to take part in NCS, but the emotional pay-off was not established. Perceived by many as a school initiative, attending the programme did not appear to be an empowered choice.

MediaCom needed to inspire teens with an individual motivation to participate (not just something school wanted them to do) and improve brand affinity amongst young people.

2. Social Proof
Young people also need to see that other young people like them are taking part in NCS. Social sharing plays a huge part in validating the experience for teens, so MediaCom needed to surface more of the real-life stories from participants.

They also needed to drive awareness amongst wider society, amplifying the impact of the programme and change perceptions of young people to empower them to sign up. By doing so, the great work being done by young people through NCS would no longer go unnoticed.

3. Remove Friction
There was friction in the consumer journey. Whilst intent to participate was high amongst teens, committing to actually go was a massive decision and not all young people had the means to participate. As a generation, teenagers research everything, so MediaCom needed to make it super easy and stress free to sign up.


Every teen has different personal motivations and reservations about participating in NCS which can be complex. MediaCom knew they couldn’t rely on traditional audience segmentation to categorise this audience as it wouldn’t take into account multiple identities or intersectionality. Today’s teens see themselves as uniquely individual, so MediaCom needed to find a common ground that would unify them.

MediaCom discovered that young people have a genuine desire to help make things better for themselves and others, but often they just don’t know how to help.

84% of young people want to help others but only 52% believe that they can make a positive difference in their communities (Source: RSA Teenagency Report (2018)

NCS bridges the gap and offers the perfect solution with the dual-benefit of helping both society and teenagers. To really motivate teens MediaCom needed to reframe NCS as a way for them to make a positive difference in the world and bring social action and volunteering projects to the forefront of NCS’ communications.

For youth, by youth

MediaCom enlisted the help of our Future Creatives network. Future Creatives are a group of creative, insightful and ambitious teens who input into briefs aimed at them. As voices for their generation, they worked with MediaCom to help us unlock insights and create campaigns that were intuitive, brilliant and most of all relevant to their peers.

The Future Creatives group was involved throughout the planning process, from insight and idea development to execution. This allowed MediaCom to develop an authentic campaign that resonated with young people and align NCS with key issues this generation was facing.

The Solution

MediaCom’s strategy was to put NCS at the forefront of social change and show young people how they could make a positive difference to the world

To make that happen, MediaCom developed NCS YOUTH RISING, a multi-platform documentary series celebrating NCS’ impact through authentic stories of social action. MediaCom enlisted the help of four different media partners to recruit inspirational young people from across the country with a hunger to invoke change.

True Stories by C4
The lead partner was Channel 4 and NCS became the first brand to partner with their new online platform ‘True Stories’ on E4 online. Channel 4 and MediaCom created 4 films tackling key societal issues that young people are concerned about: Fast Fashion, Food Waste, Youth Spaces and Mental Health. Each film featured an NCS ‘Disruptor’ from four different cities in the UK.

MediaCom also partnered with Kyra TV and GUAP to create two additional films to further spread the message and access our hard to reach youth audiences in hyper-relevant spaces.

Kyra TV
MediaCom partnered with Kyra TV’s YouTube collective ‘PAQ’. The PAQ boys were challenged with creating the most fashionable outfits from only sustainable sources, highlighting the importance of reusing, recycling and refashioning old clothes and materials.

MediaCom created a 5-minute film and supporting editorial article to highlight the change young people are determined to make in their local areas.

Youth Rising Podcast

In addition to the visual content series, MediaCom created a bespoke 16 week Youth Rising podcast. Working with production company Somethin’ Else they recruited 23 young people from across the country to research, write, report, produce and edit the podcast series. Each episode tackled two issues or topics; including prison reform, feminism, mental health in young men, social diversity in football, loneliness and many more.

Even a global pandemic didn’t stop production.

NCS knew that young people needed support during lockdown and MediaCom’s team of 23 teens who produced the series were more engaged than ever. Working with them and the production agency Somethin’ Else, NCS reshaped production, enabled the team to work remotely and empowered them to develop an editorial schedule grounded in the heart of the crisis and explore how it is affecting them.

Those aware of the podcast reported the highest levels of brand love across every campaign touchpoint: 76% (v 56%).

Youth Rising Podcast


of those aware of the podcast strongly agree that NCS is a brand that builds young people's independence


of those aware of NCS podcast would try to convince their friends to take part in NCS