This was an impressive global campaign with objectives that clearly linked to the overall business objectives of the organisation. It is unusual for an internal campaign to resonate externally. The campaign not only addressed internal recruitment requirements but also raised awareness of an important societal issue. Despite having negligible agency support, the in-house team managed to answer each of the varied market needs. The campaign demonstrated clear metrics that showed its positive impact on the business. The programme has a continuing legacy and Vodafone is now considering how other organisations can benefit from a wider pool of female applicants.

Mark of Excellence:

  • Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)
    No Time to Lose – Silica Phase


  • Ketchum and Libresse
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    BrewDog – Bar on the edge
  • Smarts Communicate and Bushmills Irish Whiskey
    Bushmills x Lowden
  • The Sage Group
    Regulatory Impact Review: Breaking Barriers for Global Productivity

Winner entry:

Brief and objectives:

In 2015, Vodafone launched a pioneering global maternity policy. Two years later – in a further effort to increase the number of women in management positions – Vodafone launched ReConnect, a global recruitment programme spanning 26 countries, aimed at recruiting female managers back into the workplace from a pool of 96 million skilled women on career breaks. This initiative will increase the number of women in management roles, with around 10% of Vodafone external management hires to be recruited through the programme by 2020. The global campaign announcing ReConnect reached 210m people through earned media, with 2,400 applications in five days.

Vodafone’s external communications team was challenged to turn this recruitment drive into a global media conversation, setting a benchmark for businesses and getting career-break women from every industry applying.

Rationale behind campaign, including research and planning:

Nine months ahead of launch the external communications team started following the progress of 50 women in 11 markets invited to take part in a pilot programme, gleaning insights and media training some. The team analysed research from GfK, who surveyed 500 career-break women for Vodafone across five countries. More than 80% said more support is needed for women wishing to return to the workplace and for those with family and care responsibilities. 61% said they wanted the option to work flexibly, 51% part-time.

Strategy and tactics, including creativity and innovation:

With a limited HR budget, three creative strategies were devised. The first was to commission global economic analysis from KPMG, calculating the economic benefits of bringing career-break women managers back into the workplace. If all such women worldwide could secure manager-level employment, we wanted to find out the value of the additional economic activity generated and the cumulative financial boost for households. This would appeal to global news desks.

The second was to turn dry, economic findings into a shareable and creative animation that could communicate the message across consumer media, with suitable content for 26 Vodafone markets.

The third was to create a narrative so strong, the conversation would continue for weeks.

Activities were planned across markets in the days following the announcement, including a live panel which brought chief executives together with political thought leaders to discuss ReConnect and why businesses should retain career-break women.

What could have been a dry HR campaign across 26 markets was crafted into a global news campaign generating headlines over the weeks before and after International Women’s Day, helping women all over the world to apply or spread the word.

Implementation of tactics:

Timing was critical, so the team planned a campaign to launch one week ahead of International Women’s Day, positioning ReConnect at the centre of global business news and Tier 1 consumer broadcast and lifestyle media when gender equality would be the biggest topic. The company’s most senior women: Serpil Timuray, Vodafone’s Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer and Sharon Doherty, Global Organisation and People Development Director, were media trained for interviews. News lines were created from the economic analysis, revealing an estimated 96 million skilled women aged 30-54 are on career breaks worldwide, of whom an estimated 55 million have management experience. A global media toolkit was created for the 26 ReConnect markets, with the announcement and economic findings drafted into a news release and shareable animation. The BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, FT and Daily Telegraph were given the release, animation and interviews a day ahead of the launch.

Vodafone’s Chief Executive, Vittorio Colao, one of the United Nations 10 corporate HeForShe impact champions, recorded an embargoed interview with the BBC’s Today programme.

On 3 March, four working days before International Women’s Day, Vodafone’s external communications team released the news to more than 2,000 global Tier 1 media.

A selection of leading business leaders and MPs, from Harriet Harman to Sir Philip Hampton, were invited by the team to join Vodafone’s International Women’s Day panel on 7 March to discuss ReConnect and ways that business could #BeBoldForChange – using the IWD hashtag to gain maximum exposure.

Measurement and evaluation:

[Statistics: Meltwater & 3GEM]

  • Tier 1 media coverage achieved in 190 countries.
  • 1600+ news and broadcast pieces. Most online Tier 1 outlets used the animation
  • Pre-recorded interviews with Serpil Timuray, Sharon Doherty and Vittorio Colao ran across Tier 1 media as the announcement was released, including the BBC Today Programme, BBC World News Radio, Al Jazeera and Bloomberg with a live CNN broadcast interview with Sharon the day before International Women’s Day.
  • 210 million people reached through earned media.
  • CNN reported ‘We need more programmes like this. If you’re on a career break you’re going to want to check that initiative out.’ The London Evening Standard reported ‘Vodafone boosted its credentials as forward thinking, family-friendly employer today with plans to recruit women on career breaks’. The Telegraph reported ‘Vodafone supports women back to work after career breaks’.
  • In an independent post-campaign survey of 2,000 people across five markets (UK, Turkey, India, Spain and Greece), 90% felt more positive about Vodafone as an employer as a direct result of ReConnect and 92% felt more positive about Vodafone as an employer of women
  • In the first five days after announcing the programme, Vodafone received 2,400 applications to join ReConnect from women on career breaks all over the world with management experience and above
  • Applications doubled to 5,000 in three weeks. By October 2017, there were more than 10,000 applications.In September 2017, Vittorio Colao, CEO of Vodafone, was voted number 1 male champion of women in business by the FT and HERoes judging panel.

Budget and cost effectiveness:

Vodafone’s external communications team storyboarded and produced all content for the campaign. Hogarth created the shareable animation and subtitles were added by YODO Creative. Of the £56,000 budget, £3,000 was allocated to Golden Goose PR who provided sell-in support. The result was a campaign spanning 190 countries, reaching more than 200 million people, with millions of views of the creative animated film. Applications from career break women surpassed 10,000 by October 2017, and Vodafone was recognised as one of the world’s leading employers of women.