RBC’s effort to empower Canada’s young workforce

A new campaign for the bank's Future Launch platform aims to convey a sense of optimism amid disruption.

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RBC has launched its latest effort in attempting to show Canada’s youth how it is working to prepare them for a rapidly changing job market.

Future Launch is a 10-year, $500 million initiative first announced in 2017 to help young Canadians get opportunities and training to prepare for the future job market. In addition to internal employment and research programs, much of the funding is going towards supporting programs that address broader issues, such as retraining programs for Aboriginal youth, addressing skills gaps in certain regions of the country and providing networking opportunities that may be out of reach to younger people.

In a TV spot that debuted earlier this week, a voiceover directly addresses “the future,” saying how much potential and passion Canada’s youth has and explaining how the Future Launch program aims to help them find work opportunities. All this happens over scenes of youth remaining calm and confident, despite raging winds, exploding scenery and sparks flying around them.

“At the core of it, the creative idea is that a young person possesses so much energy that they are disrupting the world around them, yet they are in a very calm state as they are doing it,” says Mary DePaoli, EVP and CMO at RBC. “It’s about the strength and energy inherent to young people. Rather than the disruption happening to them, they are the agents of change. But they are doing it in a way where they are very much in control.”

RBC debuted Future Launch in 2017 and launched a major push behind it last fall, and DePaoli says the feedback it has received from young people so far has been a major factor in the positioning of this year’s campaign. While Canada’s youth are excited about the opportunities the future holds for them, the transition from school to work still concerns them, as the “old ways” of doing things don’t apply anymore.

While DePaoli says Future Launch has resonated with people like teachers, parents and community leaders, the main target is Canada’s youth themselves.

“The paths are much more disrupted than they were in the past,” DePaoli says. “The skills they require are changing, but the traditional rules for entering the workforce are changing as well. This generation is inherently optimistic, so the creative is meant to tell them we hear them loud and clear and share that optimism, but [we] also want to help them with the things they need help with. Step one is using this campaign to get their attention, step two is introducing the utility Future Launch offers and step three is them using it to go on their way.”

From a brand perspective, DePaoli says the program fits into RBC’s brand purpose of “helping clients thrive and communities prosper,” adding that when young people thrive, so do their communities and the country as a whole. As one of Canada’s largest employers, RBC also has a clear interest in ensuring the country’s workforce has the skills they need to be successful, as well as making sure future generations have the stability to participate in Canada’s economy.

RBC worked with media AOR Initiative and Toronto post-production house Alter Ego on the campaign, but creative was handled by Battery, the first time RBC has worked with the Los Angeles-based independent agency, which is a three-time winner at Ad Age’s Small Agency of the Year awards. DePaoli says RBC was looking for an agency that understood the audience, and the agency has previously produced campaigns that performed well with youth and had insights to the Canadian market, as it was founded by Canadian Philip Khosid. She says it is too early to say whether the bank will work with Battery again, but would be open to it, depending on how this campaign performs.