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Inside Wunderman Thompson's plan to spark interest in workplace mentoring with ‘Magpie’


By Awards Analyst | writer

December 5, 2022 | 5 min read

Wunderman Thompson won at The Drum Awards for Agency Business 2022 in the Best Talent Development Initiative category for its Magpie mentoring app. Here, we find out more about what went into this new approach to nurturing female talent.

Wunderman Thompson's Magpie app

Wunderman Thompson's Magpie app was a winner at The Drum Agency Business Awards / Credit: Wunderman Thompson

76% of women believe that mentorship is an important part of professional development, with mentees promoted on average five times more than those without a mentor. But only 69% of female mentees have a female mentor (compare with 82% of men with a male mentor). Wunderman Thompson aimed to redress the balance with Magpie: a mentoring app with a difference.

The brief

Global pandemic, a cost-of-living crisis, recessionary fears, economic and political upheaval. One of the effects of the last couple of years of uncertainty is that, in 2022, employers found themselves sitting amid a perfect storm amounting to the biggest challenge to recruitment in recent memory. In this environment, retaining and growing talent has never been more important.

Rise is one of Wunderman Thompson’s six internal employee resource groups: a network representing the agency’s 300 women aiming to inspire, empower and build a community around them. From a variety of sources including proprietary social listening data, the team pinpointed mentoring as a key measure to make female talent more engaged, and therefore more likely to stay at the agency.

The idea

Magpie was born as a mentoring app focused on redressing a gender gap in mentorship, while also correcting for several perceived problems with many of the industry’s existing schemes: that they’re purposefully exclusive, involve lengthy application forms, require high levels of commitment, and involve scary interview processes.

With Magpie, launched on International Women’s Day, the agency set out to show that mentoring needn’t be so formal. Built around an app that takes inspiration from dating apps, it’s named for the pieces of ‘shiny’ advice that can be gleaned from a variety of colleagues on an ad hoc basis, while also referencing the belief that seeing two magpies together portends good luck and joy.

Providing hassle-free access to a rich variety of women at the agency, Magpie integrates with Wunderman Thompson’s existing workflow platform, Microsoft Teams, and takes design inspiration from the Top Trumps card game.

The results

The app engaged 50% of the agency’s women in its first week alone; since then, 20% continue to use it weekly for mentoring. The agency reports a 15% increase in mentor sign-ups since launch.

With attention across industry media and 11,000 coverage views, it’s also been valuable in signalling the agency’s commitments to talent progression and gender equality. There are plans to extend coverage of the app to male colleagues (with seven male mentors waiting in the wings), as well as the agency’s entire global talent base.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Agency Business 2022. You can see all the winners here.

The Drum Awards for Marketing are currently open for entry. Find out how you can enter now.

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