See Britain's Beautifully Compelling New Ad About the Value of Strong Teachers

Skillful, emotional work from Havas London

I am Facebook friends with at least five teachers I had before higher education. I think about them more often than I thought I would. One, in the midst of a breakdown about a curriculum change imposed by our district, tossed the entire book out and forced us to learn how to type for hours every day, taking turns on computers that didn't even have mice. I probably owe her my entire career. 

And yet, among the bad, disillusioned or just indifferent educators, these people are few and far between. 

We all know why. Who openly aspires to be a teacher? They're underpaid, at the mercy of numerous forces (parents included), and are probably more often forgotten than our ideas about success will permit us to swallow. 

Yet it's hard to discount what value a good teacher brings into your life, even if that value is hard to quantify. 

In "Every Lesson Shapes a Life," from the U.K. Department for Education, we follow the scholastic trajectory of Abi and the people who shape the adult she will become. 

Created by Havas London, this nice little public-service piece isn't asking for anything (unless you've been thinking about teaching). Just sit back and enjoy Abi's journey, which begins when she is 4 and ends at 18. Four actors play her role, but all the teachers are real.

Department for Education | Every Lesson Shapes a Life

"By focusing on one girl's story, we wanted to vividly demonstrate the unrivalled and positive human impact teachers have on the many children whose lives they touch," explains Chloe Saklow, deputy director of teacher recruitment and conversion at the DfE. "Teaching, like many other careers, isn't without its challenges, but I can't think of many others that are as important or rewarding."

The spot's turnaround took only four months and marks solid emotional work from an agency that doesn't historically produce much of it. But Havas London had a lot to prove here; it won a three-year contract for the DfE's teacher recruitment business in May, following a highly competitive review. 

The DfE's also got ambitious objectives. Like most anywhere else, teacher retention is low even as pressure for students to pursue higher education rises. Full-time vacancies and temp roles in teaching have risen since 2011, per research from the U.K. Parliament. 

Between 2017 and 2026, the number of secondary school pupils is expected to increase 19 percent. The government is also trying to push more students to take the English Baccalaureate combination of GCSE subjects, comparable to the SATs in the U.S. A number of financial incentives and other measures are geared toward training and "upskilling" about 17,500 math and physics teachers by 2020. 

But these are just numbers. The reality, which most of us have lived, will require a change in how we value teachers in the first place: They're generally underpaid and overworked, and we tend to overlook even great ones because we're taught to value jobs that earn more money and respect in exchange for less of a social burden. 

What this film does right is set the lecture aside (thus saving it for me). Instead, it illustrates the long-term impact of an encouraging word or even just a look, delivered at the right moment from a trusted instructor to a student experiencing a brief loss of faith. That the teachers here really are teachers gives it extra emotional depth. 

"For this campaign, authenticity was key. We wanted to capture the years of care, patience, encouragement and support that teachers invest into the children whose lives they shape," says Havas London managing partner Jen Black. "That's something we could only accurately portray through using real teachers, whose buy-in was so important. They're unsung heroes, and we're so proud to be working on a campaign that has the chance to help change lives for the better."

The piece broke Monday in primetime during Coronation Street, and will also appear in or be supported via cinemas, on social, radio, digital, email, press, on-demand and out-of-home, riding a new brand identity.

Havas is also responsible for the new brand identity. These included colors, logos, fonts, imagery and the tagline, "Every Lesson Shapes a Life." They will appear across all touch points, including the Get Into Teaching website, as well as in Train to Teach events, graduate fairs and on school assets.

Additional work will feature real people telling the stories of teachers who've shaped their lives. Applications for teacher training open on Oct. 9. 

Client: Department for Education

Chloe Saklow – Deputy Director, Teacher Recruitment and Conversion, DfE
Mike Olson - Head of Marketing and Communications, DfE
Nicola Keane – Senior Manager, Teacher Recruitment Marketing, DfE
Michael Paul – Senior Campaign Manager, DfE
Joe Hill – Senior Campaign Manager, DfE
Tom Clements – Assistant Campaign Manager, DfE
Christine Hitchins – Assistant Campaign Manager, DfE
Sophie Gray – Campaign Executive, DfE

Creative agency: Havas London
CEO: Xavier Rees
Managing Partner: Jennifer Black
Senior Account Director: Tom Trevelyan
Account Director: Matthew Paris
Senior Account Manager: Sophie Fletcher
Account Manager: Claire Petzal
Account Manager: Emily Allen
CSO: Clare Hutchinson
Strategic Director: Ravi Matharu
Strategist: Emma Stafford
Head of Design: Lorenzo Fruzza 
Brand Guardian: Nik House
Design: Miles Niblett
Content team: Anya Williams, Sarah Barclay, Sarah Shepherd


ECD: Ben Mooge
Creative Director: Lynsey Atkin
Copywriter: Lynsey Atkin
Creatives: Wil Maxey, Elliott White
Joint Head of Integrated Production: Patrick Cahill
Agency Producer: Adam Henderson
Assistant Agency Producer: Natasha King

Production company: Pulse Films
Producer: George Saunders
Director: thirtytwo
DoP: Ben Fordesman
Editor: Eddie Johnson, Billy Mead @ TenThree
Post-production: Time Based Arts
Colourist: Simone Grattarola
Sound: Anthony Moore @ Factory
Composer: Zebedee
VO: Mark Stobbart
Audio post-production: Factory  

Press, OOH, radio

ECD: Ben Mooge
Art Director: Wi Maxey
Copywriter: Elliott White
Photographer: Zed Nelson
Art Buying Director: Claire Lillis
Programme Director: Sarah Barclay
Production Assistant: Anya Williams
Radio Sound Engineer: Dan Beckwith @ Factory
Digital content
ECD: Ben Mooge
Writer/director: Anna Rose Kerr
Programme Director: Sarah Barclay
Senior Agency Producer: Kat Polley
Agency Producer: Sarah Wells
Production Assistant: Anya Williams
Production Company: HKX Productions


Media agency: Carat 
Media planner: Wavemaker 

Ollie Dearn
PR & Marketing Director

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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