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Be Extraordinary

The University of Southampton, Faculty of Health Sciences

Address the decline in applications to Nursing Programmes following the introduction of tuition fees

Work in progress

One of the most demanding and rewarding campaigns that we have worked on
The University needed to increase applications and improve conversion. Our client was also keen to address the gender imbalance in people applying to the profession – men makeup only 5% of nurses in the UK today.

Experience told us that we really needed to understand what it meant to be a nurse and what motives people to enter the profession. We did a lot of desk-based research, which gave us the stats and facts on target audiences. But, it didn’t give us the emotional part of the story: what motivates and drives them.

Finding what really mattered
We staged group interviews with new trainee nurses. It proved tough to get nurses to open up; they take for granted what they do. By probing we got them to talk about what they do every day and what it means to them. What we discovered was revealing and inspiring. Nursing is not just a job or even a vocation. Every day on the ward, in the operating theatre or in the community is very different. Working with people at their most vulnerable is demanding but rewarding in ways few other jobs are. Nurses possess high-level technical and interpersonal skills. We recognised that we needed to communicate the essence of being a nurse.

We distilled the emotional values, rational values, brand essence and a core proposition.

Just a quick line to convey how ‘wowed’ I was at Exec yesterday – personally I believe ‘Be Extraordinary’ exceeds all expectations. Truly.Professor Sue Colley - Associate Dean: Strategy and International - The Faculty of Health Sciences

Taking the creative leap

On approval of our strategic creative work we started on the creative expression. We were determined to move away from the stereotype of a nurse beside the bed, comforting a patient and acting as the doctor’s handmaiden.

The ‘Be Extraordinary’ line was designed to identify with the fact that this is a profession like no other and to communicate the sense of pride in what nurses do. ‘Be there…’ puts the reader in the moment and lets them picture themselves as the one making a difference to someone’s life.

The Faculty of Health Sciences was keen that whatever imagery we used was honest and did not glamorise the profession. It was also important to feature both women and men to normalise the idea of men as nurses.


The photography and video needed to show real life situations. This required our Creative Director to direct a ten-day shoot on location at Southampton NHS Hospital Trust and in the community. Organising the shoot took detailed planning and coordination. We gained access to many aspects of the work of the hospital including: A&E, the special care baby unit, live operations and critical care wards. We also covered community nursing and mental health. Shooting real life situations in real time required us to be sensitive to the patients who were often in a critical condition. We met people from all walks of life and heard many moving and occasionally sad stories. It was a fascinating and inspirational journey.


We recorded the voice-overs with 40 different people to get the cross-section of society that we wanted.

Taking the rushes and audio we worked with our editor to craft the videos. There were false starts, we changed the music and had to completely re-cut to ensure the music and action worked together perfectly. We think the result was worth the pain. We presented the results to Faculty who were delighted. But the true test was presenting the work to 300 nurses. It was met with overwhelming approval. They told us how proud it made them feel to be training as a nurse at Southampton – but please judge for yourself.

Be extraordinary project

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