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Queen Mary University of London – YouTube Campaign

The Start

How do you encourage students – and their parents – to study a subject that is rapidly declining in popularity?

Humanities subjects are in decline. Humanities A Levels have dropped 53% in the past two years. This is in part due to a perception that only STEM subjects guarantee employment. The reality is different – the humanities’ supposed lack of obvious vocational pathways is a strength in an economy where flexibility and entrepreneurship are prized. In fact 88% of humanities graduates were employed last year (compared with 89% for STEM). The most prized skills in this world are reasoning and logic, creativity, analytical and research skills and critical thinking. The majority of those in leadership positions have Humanities degrees, including CEOs of some of the world’s biggest companies: AMEX, Disney, Apple, YouTube and HP. Of course, you get to follow your lifelong passion.

Our client challenged us to get all this across to prospective students and their parents in less than 60 seconds. They also said – and this is where the challenge gets good – “look at what other universities are doing, and do something better and cooler. We want to make some videos that really stand out, and can be repurposed on all our channels.” Oh, and we only had a budget of £20,000.

The Middle

From the beginning we felt that taking our inspiration from real students would give credibility to the brand in the eyes of this brand-sceptical audience. That’s not just a hunch, according to Exploding Topics  “more than 75% of consumers say they trust content from average people more than content from brands”. But we wanted to elevate the storytelling so it stood out from the glut of talking heads videos which dominate social platforms in education. But how can you curate real people’s thoughts and opinions without losing their authenticity?

We came across a feature in Campaign about the rise of spoken word ads. “In an always-on, digital world, simple, verbal communication has a new-found purity and freshness that chimes with audiences.” The article speaks particularly about straddling the line between purposefulness and playfulness, as well as allowing the poet to talk about something personal and genuine. We did some research and found great examples to inspire the client – George the Poet became the new voice of Coca-Cola in a post-lockdown search for optimism, Kae Tempest provided the words for a Facebook campaign calling for unity during the pandemic and Hollie McNish, another spoken word artist, told the eco-savvy masses that “We don’t need hope, we are hope”, in a spot for Ovo Energy. Hussain Manawer for EE Network Envy. If they can do it – we told the client – so can we.

The End

All credit to the client who loved the idea! We decided to commission students to write and perform spoken word pieces in line with a brief from us. With big ideas, simplicity is key – we wanted it to be simply shot around the university and East London, and bought to life with animated graphics. We saved money from the budget for sound mixing and colour grading for a premium feel. We only had a few weeks, and with a small team of three full-time staff working on the videos, as well as a great cameraman, editor and animator, we storyboarded, wrote, edited, animated and delivered the content so that it was live on YouTube in just four weeks.

To discuss how we could help you bring your brand to life through video, please get in touch with nick.friend@hunterlodge.co.uk

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