Brand Purpose The Drum Awards Brand Strategy

When LinkedIn and Fight or Flight gave young prison leavers a fresh start


By Awards Analyst, writer

December 8, 2022 | 6 min read

LinkedIn and Fight or Flight won at The Drum Awards for B2B in the Brand Purpose Initiative category and at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose in the Best Brand Charity Collaboration category. Here, we find out more about what went into Blank Canvas, a campaign to give young prison leavers a fresh start.

Blank Canvas

How a group of eight young ex-offenders gained the skills to re-enter the workforce

One in four UK prison leavers re-offend in the first year of their release. The annual cost to the economy is a staggering £18bn ($22bn). But how could LinkedIn and agency partner Fight or Flight turn prison leavers away from crime?

The brief

LinkedIn, along with social enterprise InsideOut and agency partners VCCP and Fight or Flight, wanted to raise awareness of this important issue and support LinkedIn’s ambition to build a more inclusive, skills-first workforce.

The brief set out a unique rehabilitation project, providing a group of young prison leavers with the training and skills to develop the UK’s first clothing brand created, designed and hand-produced by ex-offenders.

blank canvas2

The idea

A group of eight young men, who had all struggled to find employment after leaving prison, were taught technical skills, such as screen printing and design, and supported with access to free LinkedIn Learning courses and experienced project mentors to develop business skills and soft skills including teamwork and problem-solving.

Together, the group created and marketed a thirteen-piece collection of branded hoodies, hats, T-shirts, facemasks and bags. They were also supported to build their professional profiles on LinkedIn and learn about networking and applying for roles.

Fight or Flight set about harnessing the power of the LinkedIn community to support, encourage and advise the young ex-offenders in setting up their business. The pop-up shop, ‘Blank Canvas’, also provided the opportunity to engage with the local community in Stratford.

Not only were people able to come along to the shop to support young prison leavers; they could also talk to LinkedIn’s team of dedicated career coaches on-site about unlocking professional opportunities, get free professional headshot photographs, and connect with the Project Ambassadors on LinkedIn.

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The results

Integrating these eight leavers into the UK workforce generated a net taxpayer saving of £1.1m. Three of the leavers have now set up their own clothing labels; three more have been offered internships at marketing agency Jellyfish; one was offered an internship at The London Print Club and the other has interviewed for a role at Selfridges.

Over 1,000 units of stock were sold throughout the nine-day sales period, with £10,500 in revenue generated for charity.

Widespread awareness of ex-offender employment rates was driven in broadcast media through interviews for participants: Janine Chamberlin, UK country manager at LinkedIn, and Greg McKenzie and Zack Fortag on national news and radio stations. Coverage was secured in outlets including Metro, Business Insider, The Independent and LadBible.

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

Brand Purpose The Drum Awards Brand Strategy

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