Dentsu UK partners with Co-op for the 2021 edition of pioneering schools programme The Code

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Dentsu UK’s flagship schools programme, The Code, will celebrate its fifth year by partnering with convenience retailer Co-op for the return of the Rise Up Creative Challenge.

The Rise Up Creative Challenge supports young people’s development across the UK by asking them to develop a creative digital advertising campaign in response to a real client brief.  This year’s edition will see students work on three areas of focus for the Co-op: Community, Healthy Living and A Better World. Co-creating solutions to the world’s biggest challenges is a consistent theme for The Code and in the lead-up to COP26, the Rise Up Creative Challenge gives a platform to the next generation of leaders and activists to share their ideas on how to build back better and confront the climate crisis.

The challenge, in collaboration with leading overlooked talent specialist MyKindaFuture, is open to young people aged 15 to 18, and supports dentsu in its aim to enable 100,000 young people globally to become empowered digital citizens by 2030.  

It will run for three months from 17 March and supports The Code’s aim to open the doors of the creative industries to students from under-represented backgrounds and communities. For example, last year’s edition saw 61% of participants identify as female and 52% from BAME backgrounds. To facilitate this, dentsu will continue to work with 13 partner schools from across the UK in areas with low social mobility, and higher than average BAME representation and students on free school meals.  

Students will have access to The Code’s digital curriculum, which was developed last year using the knowledge of dentsu experts in digital, media and creative. The online curriculum was launched to help address the lack of support for young people’s development during the global pandemic. It includes access to mentors from dentsu and Co-op, and on-demand video courses around topics such as the importance of data and audience insights in marketing.

Entrants will present their campaigns to a team of judges that includes: dentsu UK’s CEO of Creative James Morris, Co-op Customer Director Ali Jones, and Adweek’s UK Bureau Chief Stephen Lepitak. The winner will see their idea brought to life and - along with three highly commended entries - will receive work experience and a host of prizes from Co-op and dentsu.

James Morris, CEO – Creative and Chair of DEI Council, dentsu UK & Ireland said: “The effect of the pandemic has been felt at every level of society, especially in education. Businesses must step up and help bridge the ever-widening skills and attainment gap for disadvantaged students. Co-op leads the way in supporting community actions. Together, we can take this further, providing the essential training and access needed to provide a pathway to a future career in the creative industries."

Ali Jones, Customer Director, Co-op said: “We’re proud to partner with an agency business like dentsu, which has a clear, active Social Impact strategy designed to tackle the issues facing our society. That lies at the heart of what we do and supporting young people through the pandemic has been a key focus for us. We’re delighted to be partnering with The Code programme to give students across the country an opportunity to come up with tangible ways to support their communities while at the same time opening up greater opportunities for their own futures.”

The Rise Up Creative Challenge is open to all students who can take part by visiting:

Supporting the next generation with the skills they need to thrive is a key part of dentsu’s Social Impact strategy. The Code first launched in the UK in 2016 and is now live in 11 countries including the US and Canada in support of dentsu’s goal to support 100,000 young people to become empowered digital citizens by 2030. Since launch The Code has reached more than 11,000 students in the UK alone.

More information on The Code can be found at


For more information, please contact:

Josh Colley
Head of Corporate Communications
dentsu UK & Ireland

About The Code
Dentsu UK & Ireland’s flagship work ready programme, The Code, was launched in response to the growing importance of having a diverse talent pipeline and to open the doors of our industry to people from all backgrounds. A practical programme to equip young people with the skills they need to thrive in a digital economy, its goal is to build the future marketers for the industry and create opportunities for those who may not have considered a creative digital marketing career otherwise. Since The Code was launched in the UK in 2017, 12,500 students have been supported to date through programmes scaling across nine markets.

The Code has previously been run as a face-to-face programme, with volunteers offering immersive school workshops, work experience, apprenticeships and competitions. Previous years have seen partnerships with Channel 4 and Facebook, and clients including Jaguar Land Rover and WWF. Rise Up competitions allow students to dive in deeper, learning the importance of research, data and technology to inform creative and media planning on real client briefs.

Active agency participants in The Code include Merkle, dentsumcgarrybowen, Carat, iProspect, Dentsu Data Labs, Whitespace, MKTG, dentsuX and central functions such as New Business and Social Impact.

About dentsu international
Part of dentsu, dentsu international is made up of nine leadership brands - Carat, dentsu X, iProspect, Isobar, dentsumcgarrybowen, Merkle, MKTG, Posterscope and supported by its specialist brands. Dentsu International helps clients to win, keep and grow their best customers and achieve meaningful progress for their businesses. With best-in-class services and solutions in media, CXM, and creative, dentsu international operates in over 145 markets worldwide with more than 48,000 dedicated specialists.

About MyKindaFuture

MyKindaFuture is the UK’s leading overlooked talent specialist. The company works with employers to attract, recruit and retain underrepresented and diverse talent, including young people and those returning to the workplace.