June 13, 2022

“We’ve always valued the creative approach Big Red Oak brings to our projects. Starting with a solid understanding of our business, our culture, and our objectives, they help us explore what’s possible.”

  • Cathy Metson, Senior Manager, Communications, AstraZeneca Canada

A good solution starts with understanding. Understanding the challenges, the history, the goals, the assets, the company … and then using that understanding to develop a strategic plan and a sound solution. That is why AstraZeneca turned to Big Red Oak to help strengthen their recruitment efforts.

The Challenge

AstraZeneca Canada is helping to lead the way in advancing life-changing therapies that push the boundaries of science. Attracting the right people is essential. “It’s an incredibly exciting time at AstraZeneca in Canada – where great science is driving an ambitious launch agenda and increasing our clinical footprint,” says Cathy Metson, Senior Manager of Communications at AstraZeneca Canada. “Recruiting exceptional talent to support this continued growth is critical.” 

The Solution

“Our initial thinking was to engage a few employees to share personal testimonials on why AstraZeneca is a great place to work,” Cathy explains. “But we also wanted to do something a bit more uniquesomething that could better capture the spirit of collaboration and teamwork that is at the core of our culture. So we took the idea to Big Red Oak.” 

Creative Director Will Murphy recognized AstraZeneca’s goal to make an emotional connection with potential recruits while also giving them a snapshot of what it’s like to work at AstraZeneca. He proposed a few different directions; and the team landed on a relaxed Coffee Chat concept, pairing staff members across various business units to share their thoughts over a friendly cup of java. 

The Creative

Cathy and Will collaborated on a master creative brief that clarified the process for senior leadership and served as a blueprint for the participants. “Big Red Oak really helped us to build out the central themes,” Cathy comments. “We started out with just one or two but through the creative process ended up with about ten.”

Authenticity was key, with natural, in-the-moment conversations rather than scripted dialogue. The film crew put the speakers at ease, with a generous window of time for capturing the scenes. “We got so much great footage that it was hard to pick the best elements,” Cathy admits. “Big Red Oak did an amazing job of pulling out the highlights.”

The nine-episode series of Coffee Chat Videos demonstrates not only the diversity of functions at AstraZeneca— telling the stories of two senior personnel in oncology (When Gaby Met Krista) and underscoring the caring perspectives of specialists in hematology (When Brian Met Marie)—but it also shows many of the things that make AstraZeneca a great place to work; for instance, its commitment to a speak-up culture (When Gena Met Ryan) and sustainability (When Carlo Met France).

Pullout graphics with quotes from the series expanded the outreach through social media, and photos with pull quotes on internal plasma screens reinforce the company’s positive culture to staff and visitors alike. 

The Result

The series was a perfect fit. “Viewers could see the faces, hear the voices, and recognize the honesty,” Will observes. “These videos conveyed the humanity and enthusiasm the employees have for their work and revealed a great deal about the culture at AstraZeneca Canada.”

“The campaign took our first idea to a new level,” Cathy concludes. “We’ve shared the videos with our global counterparts to show other countries our best practices in recruitment and onboarding.”

The Opportunity

Big Red Oak’s solution-oriented tactics include strategic advice on how to leverage assets for multiple applications, accommodating any budgetary or time constraints with flexible options. “We formatted the series with consistency of style, so that the episodes fit seamlessly together and conclude with a clear call to action,” says Will. “And it provides a thematic pattern that can be built upon at any time.”

The team at AstraZeneca appreciates the broad value of the assets beyond the initial goal of recruitment, using them as an onboarding tool for new hires and showcasing them within and beyond the company.

“The concept works so well in providing a platform for discussion,” Cathy says. “We’re really hoping to expand the coffee chats, with so many other topics to explore and so many more people to introduce.”