The charity that runs the National Citizen Service has put out a contract worth up to £10m for a creative agency to revamp its brand and work on its campaigns.
The National Citizen Service is initially offering a two-year contract to deliver a brand identity project for the NCS and then continue to work as its lead creative partner on a campaign basis for the remainder of the agreement, which will have the option of being extended for two further 12-month periods.
The NCS was established in 2011 by the Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, and is aimed at encouraging social cohesion, mobility and engagement among young adults.
But it has been dogged by claims that it is undersubscribed and the Local Government Association said last year that only 93,000 young people took part in NCS schemes in 2016, just 12 per cent of those eligible.
This was despite the scheme receiving more than £630m of government funds between 2014 and 2017, while local authority funding for local youth services fell by 40 per cent between 2010 and 2016, the LGA said.
The charitable think tank NPC said last year that the government should consider scrapping the scheme and redirecting its funds to other youth organisations if they proved more effective.
The new contract for creative services, which is valued at between £4m and £10m plus VAT, makes reference to the difficulties the NCS has faced in achieving cut-through among young people and the public since its inception.
The contract states: "NCS is ambitious to grow and inspire more young people to participate in the programme.
"Whilst greater control of the network to deliver recruitment and sign ups via re-commissioning, media efficiencies and digital acceleration will ensure incremental gains, awareness of and perception of the NCS brand is a major blocker amongst young people, parents and guardians, and the wider general public."
The contract calls for an agency to help it deliver "a razor-sharp brand proposition, a brand identity that is fit for purpose in the digital age and a creative platform that can not only cut through the clutter, but live and breathe through every single touchpoint… to make NCS the best-known and loved youth movement brand in the UK."
The contract document warns that procurement is being carried out on an "accelerated time schedule", with the successful agency required to produce creative materials by the autumn, which matches the "core recruitment window" for students to sign up to the scheme.
In order to meet this deadline, final creative materials will need to be distributed to NCS partners by July.
The contract document says: "The scale and complexity of the project requires the winning agency to have at least two months to carry out the necessary research, strategy development and creative development."
A version of this story first appeared on Third Sector’s sister title, PR Week