Codehunter – helping BNP Paribas to attract tech savvy graduates

Many hidden secrets are tucked away on the internet, things that make you smile, placed there by mischievous programmers and developers. They’re known as Easter eggs, ‘in’ jokes put there by clever coders who make it their mission to add a little extra sparkle to the work they do. Exactly the kind of crowd BNP Paribas was looking to target.

CodeHunter played to that curious part of the developer personality. We began by creating four Easter eggs of our own. Then we buried them away on the BNP Paribas graduate website.

The challenge for students was to uncover them and the hidden gems of code they contained.

Once students had collected all four lines of code they entered them on a competition webpage and were then given access to the final stage of the competition. If players thought it had been tough so far, that was nothing compared to what awaited them now.

Having begun with a challenge designed to appeal to particular personality types, this was now a test of the technical ability BNP Paribas was looking for in potential candidates and designed to act as a serious filter, leaving only the brightest of the bright still in the game. The challenge was to unscramble an image by using integer maths.

If players managed to unscramble the image, they had to provide a description of it and, as is the case in pretty much every maths test, they had to show the workings they had used.

The prize? A guaranteed interview with one of the banking world’s most innovative technology teams.

The results?

248 players in just over two weeks, from two campuses and double the amount of applications for live Technology roles.

Hide and Tweet!

Last year, Mars created a world-first in student engagement with its magical tweet-activated vending machine. This year it took things to a whole other level with Mars Hide and Tweet.

TweetShop was creative, massively effective and totally ground-breaking (in the recruitment world at least). Over 21 days, it went out to eight campuses and nearly 2,000 people grabbed the chance to tweet for treats.

This year Mars wanted to increase that reach but budget meant we couldn’t transport TweetShop to more locations. So we created an online hide and seek game using Google Maps technology.

#MarsHideAndTweet happened in two distinct phases. First, a week-long online competition that was open to universities across the UK. We hid the TweetShop in five different European cities on our custom map over a period of five days. And every day students raced to hunt it down following a series of cryptic clues that were tweeted over the course of the day.

We went out onto 9 campuses to build excitement face-to-face with students and promote the competition with motion-sensitive plasma TV screens that projected a series of different messages as people walked past them. In the week running up to the competition we began sparking twitter conversations with a series of innovative vines.

Emails, posters and flyers, as well as posts to the Marsgradsuk Facebook and Twitter pages, were used to explain what #MarsHideAndTweet was all about and to promote the competition.

Did it work? Absolutely.

More than 350 people registered to play. And within minutes of the competition going live on Monday 3rd February the guesses began coming in, even before the first clue had been tweeted. The race was on because the first person each day to find and tweet TweetShop’s location to @marsgradsuk won a free weekend break for two people to that day’s city.
A dedicated team responded to those guesses with hundreds of personal tweets back to players. The conversations and the excitement grew and grew.

On top of daily competitions there was the main event, the opportunity for one university to win TweetShop, fully-loaded with Mars freebies, for its campus for a week.

The winner would be the university whose students made the most tweets over the course of the week. The competition was fierce and so close that in the end there was nothing between Coventry and Reading so a decision was made to send TweetShop out to both universities. Win, win – in true Mars make it mean more style.

Storytelling in Recruitment

Amanda Ashworth

Are you sitting comfortably? then I will begin.

Storytelling for brands and for recruitment has been around for years but social media allows us to have more impact and deliver to a greater reach.

With all this noise, now more than ever recruiters need to consider a long term strategy. We need take ownership of the recruitment process and stop just posting jobs, acting in a transactional way and start communicating with great content.

Storytelling is a great way to help your employer brand and also the candidate experience by allowing your candidates to see the good, the bad and the ugly before deciding to click apply. Every business wants to drive lots of traffic to their careers site but the stories you tell can help only the right ones apply because they have a informed view on life at your company.

Whether it be adverts, images, video or insights…

View original post 30 more words

Onboarding. Onshoring. Outsourcing. Offshoring.


Can you remember your last first day at a new job? The nervous gulp as you pushed open the front door of your new building? The ‘ting’ of the elevator as it arrived at your floor? The being introduced to people whose names you instantly forget? The excitement of a new challenge? The wondering where the coffee machine is?


We’ve all experienced those feelings – and perhaps many more besides. We all know that joining a new business is one of the most stressful points in any career, and we all try to make each new joiners experience a good one – don’t we?

Of course, and when it’s done right, onboarding can be an inspiring process.

Why is it then that the fundamentally human behaviour of making someone new feel welcome in a group, often becomes no more than a tick box exercise, a business process to be nodded at? No different to offshoring customer service centres or outsourcing payroll.

Isn’t that a missed opportunity?shutterstock_188248448

That first few days for a new employee sets the agenda for the rest of their time with you. It affects the relationship you’ll have with that person for a disproportionately long period of time. You only get one shot at this unique opportunity for your new employee to make the best possible start. It can make a huge impact on engagement, performance and attrition levels. And it can mean positive things for everyone involved.

So how do you make an onboarding process really matter? The answer is to look at your own personal experience. Remember the questions that mattered to you.

Questions like: “Who’s going to be in my team? Where and when do I eat my lunch? What does the MD look like? Would Irings know the boss if I passed them in the kitchen? Where are all the other newbies? Does everyone go for drinks on a Friday?” And not forgetting “Who can I talk to about all of this without looking silly?”

These are far from frivolous questions. Imagine you’ve been sold an employer brand that’s promised a ‘socially savvy environment with a laid back, open culture’; but reality is that this turns out to be completely untrue because no-one has engaged with you personally…

Make it human and engaging

An average onboarding initiative offers the basic support and information people need to get on with their job. Like floor plans, email policy, personal development and review plans.

That’s all well and good. But we’re missing something incredibly important here. The human element. The person to person interaction we all value more highly above all else. The social touch.

With this in mind, here are some tips to help you create a more engaging onboarding experience:

  • First, make the practical stuff easy. Store all your information in one accessible place. GenY (and beyond), will not put up with substandard IT infrastructure or difficult to reach content. An app or a dedicated portal such as a microsite are easy to implement quick fixes.
  • Make sure you include team members who don’t have continual access to a desktop PC. Make the solution mobile.
  • Make the process as social as possible.

o   Allow people to connect with senior leaders and team members

o   Allow people to start connecting and talking before they join

o   Organise events for all new starters

o   Gamify. Create leaderboards or competitions to encourage people to achieve key objectives each.

  • Give people a reason to keep coming back. Keep content dynamic, and allow people to develop their profile and connections over 6 to 12 months.

Balance the functional with the emotional.emotional

Practical issues are part and parcel of joining a new business. But if your onboarding process addresses basic human needs too, you’ll make the shiny new person you’ve just hired a critical part of the team before they even start.

Getting to grips with the emotional elements can mean the difference between an employee leaving within six-months – or an incredibly skilled person coming out of their shell and achieving their full potential. That’s why a good onboarding process really matters.

If you’d like to hear more about our views on onboarding, or to learn about insights we gained from working with employers and how that might help you, get in touch. We’d love to tell you more.

Tonic 2014

How can graduate recruiters create communications that reflect the candidate and their community?


Last week talked about why graduate recruiters might be wasting resources looking for talent in all the wrong places and provided some tips for bringing talent to you with an effective ‘pull’ marketing strategy

Pull is tougher to achieve as we’ve mentioned. But the value and quality you’ll experience is well worth the effort.

So, how are you going to populate your communications calendar?


How can we hope to influence the way people feel about us when:

Your audience is extremely skeptical
The market is overcrowded and full of noise
The competition is fierce
Push marketing isn’t listened to
Corporate speak just doesn’t cut it


Be human!
Be helpful!
Be valuable!

Actions such as targeted emails, campus marketing, careers fairs, sponsorship, brochures, driving likes on social are all great to build the brand presence. But the critical question is “what are you telling them that no one else is?”

Are you simply telling them that they’ll get great development and fast track to management, with a great total benefits package and flexible working hours with a strong social culture? If so, then you’re saying the same as everyone else. You’re focusing on the functional benefits of the brand.

What experience are you providing that’s going to start a two-way conversation? Are you just doing a nice creative campaign that’s telling people you’re a great destination for anyone with a 2:1 in computer science? Or are you really engaging people at a deeper level, and demonstrating this through a great experience?

What content are you sharing with your community that’s helping them out? Are you providing useful insight into the direction the industry is taking? Do you even have a content marketing strategy?

If you have any hope of gaining trust and building advocacy, then you need to become a source of value. The best way to do that is by being helpful, being human and by sharing valuable content. It has to be sincere and well planned with no sales angle or perceivable benefit to you.

Next week we’ll back to talk about social onboarding. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.

Snap it, Scan it, Win it! Our latest work for Tesco Graduates!

Snap it, scan it win!


Tesco is the proverbial supermarket giant and has used many of the more mainstream channels to amass an army of student followers over the years.
When they approached us at the end of 2013, it was with a clear brief to raise their profile on campus and change some of the entrenched perceptions of them that are still held by many people.
We set out to create an experience that would yield high engagement, one that would be innovative and, ultimately, one that would create a talking point, getting people chatting about a different Tesco, in a different way. Working together we explored some relatively new channels before developing a first-of-a-kind game that uses the Snapchat app.

Snapchat is a mobile-only app that has caught fire with teenagers. If you haven’t heard of it, here’s how it works: with the app loaded on your phone you take a photo, set a timer for anything from 1 to 10 seconds, then send it to your friend. Your friend gets the photo on his/her phone and from the moment they open the image they only have the time you set to view it before ‘poof!’ it self-destructs. We exploited that function to give people the opportunity to win prizes in an immersive, quick-fire game.

We built a stand containing 12 Perspex boxes, each with a barcode scanner attached to it. Inside each box were a number of mystery prizes but every box was locked. Students could only unlock a box by scanning it with the correct ‘key’. The keys were, in fact, 12 unique barcodes and to get hold of one students first had to send in a ‘selfie’ to the Tesco Snapchat team. Once they had done this the students were sent their’key’but they had no idea what box it would open. They also knew that they couldn’t open their key until they were ready to play, otherwise it would self-destruct after 10 seconds.
Students queued up to play and once on the stand a series of fast and frenzied 10-second periods passed in the blink of an eye as each student raced to scan as many boxes as possible, hoping to find a match.
Feedback at the events was fantastic with students saying,

“That’s such a cool idea” and “That’s so neat that they’re using Snapchat!”
And more than one student who was about to play the game was heard to say…

“Oh my God! I can’t believe I’m so nervous.”

Do Graduate Recruiters need to re-think where the people they’re looking for might be found?


Do Graduate Recruiters need to re-think where the people they’re looking for might be found?

Welcome back to our 5-part blog about the factors that are leading to a need for change in the way graduate recruiters choose to engage with future talent. Last week we covered why it’s much harder to get the attention of candidates today than in years gone by.

This week, we’ll explore where those candidates are found, and the changes in play that might mean you’re spending more time and money on your efforts, however could still be looking in the wrong places.

Why? Well we know that changes to Higher Education funding mean many students now prioritise factors such as location over reputation. And the sad truth is, some of the best and brightest simply can’t afford to fund themselves through university at all. Which means that, today, the talent employers typically target is increasingly found in less typical places. However, some Graduate Recruiters persist in visiting the same universities over and over again regardless of whether they’re getting results, either because they’re asked to, or simply because that’s where they’ve always had strong relationships.

Without wishing to cause offense, is that really the most intelligent approach? What did Albert Einstein once say….?

So where do you begin?

Tools such as HighFliers and Trendence are great for getting a detailed understanding of where the communities you need to be part of can be found, and provide a good temperature check for the sentiment around your brand on specific campuses.

But is this the right approach to take in today’s social, mobile and connected world? And, what’s the Milkround actually for, if not just a vanity parade?

The whole concept of targeting ‘audience groups’ with your messaging is based largely on an out-dated push marketing model. Research has shown that push marketing is less effective – there’s too much of it going on and we’re just not tuning in any more – even more so with millennials.

So how can we ensure that our messages reach the right people and are delivered in the right way?

Let’s take a moment to think about the modern graduate. How do they choose to consume media today compared to 5 years ago? What do they care about? How much time do they spend on their mobiles each day? Where do they spend time online, and why?

The answers to these questions will differ significantly from one person to the next, and it’s virtually impossible to cater for everyone’s needs on a one-to-one basis. But, it is possible to create a communications strategy that’s informed, human  and leaves people wanting more.

In order to do that, you need to be personal and you need to market in the same way that your customers want to buy

Drawing people towards you is far more potent. It’s more challenging to get right, but when you do you’ll most certainly reap the benefits in today’s future talent market. It’s the right approach if you hope to gain the trust of even the most discerning young talent.

We’re not talking about people turning up at your front door of course. And we’re not suggesting you stop turning up on campuses. We’re talking about harnessing the power of communities and how you can position yourselves within these to begin delivering your message in the right way and becoming a source of value. It’s about finding the right blend of ‘pull’ as well as ‘push’. It’s about going where they are, not where you expect them to be.

If you’re successful in pulling people towards you, you’ll need to worry far less (and spend less) about what campuses you visit and what research you use to help you locate audience demographics.

Of course, to do this you’ll need great content and messages and we’ll talk about this in more detail next week.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to comment and click the follow button if you like what you’ve read. Feel free to pop over to http://www.tonic-agency.com in the meantime.

Why do graduate recruiters have to work much harder today to get the attention of candidates that used to be easy to hire?


A combination of business, communications, economic and social factors have come together to create an environment that makes your life as a graduate recruiter harder every year. As if it wasn’t hard enough, right?

These impact the role of a graduate recruiter – so much so that the job we all do now is significantly more complex, challenging and stressful than it used to be.

But, what are the changes? What can we do about it? How can we be more effective? All questions we’re going to be addressing in our next series of blogs. Starting here with a look at the shift in context that students and employers are working within. Firstly education.

Changes to Higher Education funding have influenced where people choose to go to university, meaning that the kind of talent employers usually look for is increasingly found in more unusual places.

There is also a larger proportion of students graduating now who aren’t considered employable by many businesses. To add to this, the marketplace is becoming more crowded and noisier as employers try harder than ever to get the attention of students from a younger age.

A new social network seems to pop up every month and conflicting stats around mobile can make you second-guess your efforts. And of course you have to bear in mind that the younger generations are becoming increasingly skeptical and are far less likely to give up their trust so easily.

Essentially, there’s a lot more to consider today than ever before. These factors are driving a high level of change in the way employers approach how they choose to communicate with the people their business needs. Or at least they should be.

When we look at the core principles of building and strengthening relationships with the people you need, we see that these can be broken down into basic elements:

·       Where are they?

·       What messages do they need to hear?

·       How can I engage and support them?

·       How can I dissuade the wrong and persuade the right people to apply through

·       How can we make the onboarding process as engaging and informative as

These are some of the questions we’ll be looking to answer in this blog. Along with… how can we deliver our message in a human and authentic way that reflects the candidate and her/his community? How can we create credible communications that transcend the functional elements of your brand and connect at a much deeper, emotional level? How can we pull the people we need to us, as opposed to pushing our messages onto them and hoping they’re heard?

We’ve had experience helping some of the world’s largest brands answer these – and it’s been an immense amount of fun helping them. We’ve created world-firsts and won awards for our clients along the way.

What we’ve discovered is that there’s no golden rule that will help to make you more attractive to graduates and school leavers overnight. However, there is a slight change in mind-set that you can apply to your communications strategy that will help you to become more social, mobile and personal, and ultimately help your business become more human, more valuable and more trusted – all of which pay a vital role when it comes to influencing sentiment around your brand.

In this blog, we’ll be taking a look at the change in thinking that’s required to help you position your brand as an attractive and valuable source within the communities you hope to attract talent from. We’ll break each section down, looking at what has been the more typical approach and compare that with the unorthodox thinking that’s necessary in today’s market. 

We really hope you enjoy reading this, and we’d love to hear your comments and feedback. You’ll be able to find our details at www.tonic-agency.com

How did it feel to win our first RAD award?

RAD award trophy 2014

Awesome! Truly.

We’ve had our fair share of wins and sore heads in the past; we’ve enjoyed the Red Bar until dawn on more than one occasion. In Mark’s case, he counted that last week was his 25th night of attending – and even remembers that they used to be called The BRA’s (British Recruitment Advertising Awards)!

But last Thursday was different for us. It was the first time, we as Tonic, had submitted any work for consideration. And, being up for four nominations as a newcomer was really exciting. Seeing Mars’ #TweetShop win the Best Ambient/Outdoor category, was thrilling. The champagne flowed.

Since we launched the campaign in February 2013, #TweetShop has taken off like it had superpowers, scooping Work of The Year and Best Digital Solution at the CIPD awards shortly after its launch, Innovation at The FIRM’s and Best use of Twitter at SoMe. This award rounded off the fantastic year it, Mars and Tonic have all shared.

We’d like to say a massive well done to all last week’s RAD Award winners, and a very big thank you to those who’ve been involved in making the start of 2014 so special.

See you there next year.

SoMe Conference preview. What’s the Secret Social Sauce?


It’s the SoMe graduate conference & awards do tomorrow (23rd Jan 2014). The conference agenda looks great; lots of case studies, market data and a bit of looking forward to what’s next  for us all too. There’s also the awards event later on in the evening – we’re short listed in several categories for a range of our work. We have our fingers crossed.

With the emphasis of the conference being on whether social is right (we hope that there are very few people that actually need convincing that they need to be active), the channels that can be used to serve content and their various merits, we’re going to take a slightly different perspective.

In the afternoon Tom is sharing the stage with Andrew from Mars and they’ll be looking at the HOW of content provision. How can we use the content generated to build conversation? How can we use those conversations to build community? How can we use social to convey our personality, our human brand, rather than simply pushing content? How does this change the dynamic of employer marketing altogether? How have Mars used this thinking to bring the people they need into the business?

We’ll share the slides we use later in the week but be warned that we’re not going to give away the magic ingredients, the secret sauce. You’ll have to talk to us to get that thinking…

Hope to see you tomorrow.


+Tonic Agency