The Drum Awards Awards Case Studies Experience Case Studies

How EY got 35,000 employees to engage in its NextWave training initiative


By Awards Analyst, writer

December 6, 2022 | 6 min read

Ogilvy UK won at The Drum Awards for Experience, taking home the Chair Award 2022 for its work on EY’s NextWave Elevator Challenge. Here, we find out more about what went into this successful project.


EY Elevator Challenge

This Ogilvy campaign for EY helped bring the firm’s huge workforce along on its brand strategy.

The brief

EY’s global ambition and strategy for creating long-term value had high awareness and commitment. However, a significant number of employees didn’t understand what they needed to do differently to connect their day jobs to the strategy. The brief: inspire, engage and motivate EY’s 365,000 global employees and bridge this gap.

The idea

EY’s bold new ambition and strategy, NextWave, could only be achieved if the whole company played its part in delivering it. To bridge this gap, the agency needed to inspire, engage and make NextWave personally relevant.

In the corporate world, employee engagement initiatives can be uninspiring. Meaning people don’t engage fully, messages don’t sink in, and desired behaviors aren’t adopted.

So, Ogilvy looked for a different way to drive engagement. It tapped into a fundamental human driver – the desire to play. Play is proven to have positive effects on a child’s ability to learn. But it goes beyond childhood. Learning through play also stretches into adulthood. Just look at the success of quiz shows and global gaming platforms. The strategy was to co-create a gamified engagement experience with our people.

Co-creation was important to maximize impact across different cultures and geographies. EY people said they wanted something innovative, fun, team-based, and playable from anywhere due to the continuing global covid pandemic.

So Ogilvy created The NextWave Elevator Challenge. A gamified, 90-minute team experience built in an immersive 360-degree viewable game environment.

This is no ordinary elevator – it can move sideways and forwards, like the Great Glass Elevator in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. It’s been built to literally elevate employees’ understanding of EY’s NextWave strategy. The NextWave Elevator (called Levella with her own personality and sense of humor) transports global teams to different environments to play interactive games, watch films, and solve animated puzzles, all built around the strategic pillars of NextWave.

At the end of the experience, users then engage in a facilitated team discussion where they can reflect on their learnings and think about what else they can do to help achieve the company’s ambition.

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To drive the necessary behavior changes, Ogilvy employed behavioral science and gaming psychology – including ‘points earning’ strategies, multipliers, feedback loops and a team leaderboard, to appeal to the friendly, competitive nature of EY’s employees. Ogilvy also worked with EY and agency accessibility experts to ensure that no one would miss out.

Deploying The Elevator Challenge to the entire EY workforce was a challenge in itself. It needed to work within the hybrid workplace, so teams could play together at work and at home. Ogilvy translated the experience into 12 languages, created 20 films, and recruited and motivated team leaders across 22 global regions

The results

The experience is currently being deployed in a phased approach across EY. Results so far have been exceptional. To date, EY has seen over 35,000 people take part, with early adopters such as Latin America South and parts of the Global Delivery Service function achieving a 46% participation and completion rate. Deployment continues through 2022 and into 2023.

Feedback scores are exceptional with scores of over 4/5 across all three key metrics. Not only were employees inspired and engaged, but the understanding was enhanced and people knew exactly what they needed to do to make NextWave a success. Qualitative feedback was also hugely positive. Posts were made on people’s own LinkedIn accounts and thousands of participants posted on EY’s Yammer platform.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Experience in 2022. The Drum Awards for Marketing are currently open for entry. Find out how you can enter now.

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