arrow-up-stemless arrow-down-stemless share arrow-down arrow-up location envelope pinterest search facebook instagram twitter youtube linkedin


Direct Line Group (DLG) were having real problems when it came to getting volume hires into their Doncaster call centre. We had saturated the usual channels. We needed to do something different. Something unexpected, that would stand out from the crowd. A fresh approach that would make an authentic connection with the public and position DLG as a local and friendly employer of choice. It was time to think outside of the box and get in front of the candidates we wanted to recruit, face-to-face. 

We decided to create an experience for the people of Doncaster. 


We created Donny’, a character named after the town’s nickname, and the campaign ‘Make Donny Smile’. Then, we brought him to life – to star in his very own, one-off experiential shopping centre event.  

Donny is really hard to please, so if you can make him smile, you’ve definitely got the people skills needed to succeed in a call centre role at Direct Line Group. We created a full character profile, hired a professional actor and even built a set for Donny’s house. To encourage participation, there were prizes for those who could make Donny smile. It was both a competition and a career opportunity and as such, a wide variety of media was used to publicise the event. 


28 lucky people made Donny smile. The public gave him a warm reception and were clearly engaged, with the overall campaign attracting over 982 applications and 35,825 visits to the DLG website from 1st Jan- 9th Feb. 50 hires were made from the campaign. It was a great example of how a creative idea can capture the imaginations of candidates – and provide great return on investment. As a result, we are now delivering volume recruitment for their Sales, Service and Claims positions.  

982 applications

35,825 website visits

28 people
make Donny smile