Adopt Wales



More than

It’s not often you get to work on a project that instantly connects with you on an emotional level and has the potential to make a difference far beyond business metrics.

Family memories are something to cherish. The first family holiday at the beach, or the first day of school, learning to ride a bike or catch a ball, Christmas mornings and bed-time stories. For many of us, family is something that we take for granted. We never stop to think what our childhoods would have been like without a family around us.

With over 6000 children on their adoption registers, and only 200 potential adopters, a consortium of 11 South Wales departments, Barnardo's Cymru and St David’s Children's Society came together to begin a campaign that would connect these children with new families. Families that would create precious memories together.

Jamie Baulch with his adopted siblings - 1975

The Brief

Adoption can be a sensitive subject, and not often talked about. Unfortunately, this lack of open discussion has given rise to myths and misinformation about the process. Many people think they are too old, or can’t adopt if they are a same sex couple or a single parent. These myths stop many potential adopters from even making first contact.

From research we identified that the primary target audience was female aged 30-40. Other target audiences were minority ethnic, older age, single parents and same-sex couples. These groups had lost confidence in traditional ‘campaign’ approaches. In order to reach them, and get them to find and contact their local adoption agency, we needed to present real stories from real people.

We had the challenge of conveying a very sensitive and complex subject in a way that would have a positive impact on the audience, encouraging them to consider the option, and make contact.

We also had to manage the many stakeholders requirements and expectations very carefully. The coming together of so many partners meant that there was currently no unified messaging or approach in a relatively small geographic area.

Creating Trust

It became clear early on that we needed to present authentic voices, our audience needed to hear other people’s experiences first hand. We produced a series of short films that explored five unique stories, focusing on families coming together and overcoming preconceptions.

Scott and Amanda were concerned that their age would make it difficult to adopt, Rick and Alan weren’t sure if the process was different for same sex couples. Nick is a normal 25 year old, who loves the parents who adopted him at birth. Olympic medallist Jamie Baulch, shared his story of being adopted into a family of a different race, and being accepted as the ‘little angel’. The videographers we worked with were able to empathise with parents looking to adopt because they themselves had adopted a child into their family, and actually featured as one of our stories.


We believed that it was important to present an honest account on adoption, showing challenges as well as the high points, in order to gain trust from the audience. By seeing real people, the viewer would be able to see themselves in the stories. Trust would provoke a conversation, asking the viewer to think about whether adoption was right for them.

To protect the identity of some of the children, we weren’t able to show their face in the films. Instead we focused on the family around them, and the relationship they shared. Rather than using off the shelf music beds, we created a soundtrack using in house skills. This was essential in creating the right, natural mood for the films.

The people in our films were also photographed in a studio, and the images used across the campaign. Their stories formed the foundation of the campaign, and were instrumental in it’s success.

A new logo mark

The joint effort of the 13 stakeholders needed to unite under one banner. We created the Adopt Wales identity as an umbrella for the the different regional teams, and to present a central information point, despite there being regional offices.

The design centres on the O, a shape that symbolises a complete family circle. The other shapes were kept simple, and childlike, resembling building blocks. This not only made the viewer think of children, but also communicated that the process of adoption was not quite as complicated as they may think.

Design for the adoption process pack

“Ethos took a sensitive subject matter and showed us how to celebrate it in an emotional yet exciting way.”
Ceri Martin

An interactive story

The main focal point of the campaign was the site. It showcased the stories that we had gathered, dispelled the myths, and provided a contact point for the regional adoption agencies. We wanted to break away from what the public expected from a council based campaign, introducing full screen content, animation and interaction. We needed users to want to read the stories, or want to discover the truth over the myths.

By presenting a myth, and challenging the user to think about what they knew about adoption, we were able to identify to the audience their own preconceptions. Unless challenged, people can believe myths without even questioning whether they might be true. By using a ‘quiz’ style interface, the user was encouraged to discover the truth. It broke the content into smaller, more digestible pieces, and the interaction would mean that the content was remembered, and ultimately shared.

Our research showed that the majority of the audience were viewing the current site on mobile or tablet. Therefore we worked hard to ensure that the site performed consistently across key screen sizes and device types. A lot of the more complex interactions and layouts relied on Javascript and CSS3, and would therefore not be supported on older browsers, including the ones used by the adoption agencies themselves. As a result we developed ways for the site to work even in these situations, making the information accessible to a wider audience.

We were able to form a great working relationship with our client. From the start we were transparent about what could be achieved within the timescale and budget. Being transparent with each other is always the quickest way to create a project relationship based on trust. Working in this way meant we got the best out of each party, even if some conversations were tough at times. This was evident when the site was nominated for a Webby in the government sector alongside NASA, and was recognised as one of the five best Government funded websites in the world; as well as being Site of the Day on CSS Awards and an Honouree on AWWWARDS. The site and campaign launch at the Welsh Assembly were also featured on national television and radio news.

The campaign was designed for multiple devices The video stories were positioned as background The content and the site focused around sharing real stories from adopting families
next previous
01 / 01 Image Title

Amplifying the campaign

With all of our projects we work closely with the client team after launch to monitor performance. This means we can react to the results, and adapt the digital strategy appropriately. To drive traffic to the site, and increase awareness of the campaign, we worked with SEO experts to create a content strategy. Blog posts were written and targeted to the key audiences, monitored for their performance and social activity, and then reacted to. The result of the campaign was a 100% increase in traffic every month for the first 6 months and a significant increase in adoption applications over a prolonged period.