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Queen Mary’s HEIST SILVER Award Winning International Campaign

“Fantastic! Well done to everyone involved – it is pure gold in my book. Striking campaign which drove results. Congratulations!”

Priti Patel

Assistant Director of Marketing

Campaign Overview

Winner of HEIST Silver for Best International Campaign and a finalist at the Higher Education Content Marketing Awards, this was a comprehensive global campaign that delivered excellent outcomes through full integration of strategic, media, creative and content.



The brief

Queen Mary in Malta was a relatively new offering for the University – a chance for ambitious medics to get a top 10 UK medicine degree with a world-renowned medical school in a paradise location in the Mediterranean. ​

The target audience was global and included students as well as their influencers – teachers and parents.

In 2019, the university had 44 enrolments on the brand new course, half of which came from the UK.

The challenge was to continually grow the reputation while at the same time continuing to hit recruitment targets to make it sustainable and financially viable.

The SMART objectives

To deliver 60 enrolments for a September 2022 start.

This then broke down into the following 3 campaign goals:

  1. To raise awareness of the Malta Medicine MBBS five-year programme to international students and their influencers by increasing web traffic by 30%
  2. Drive and increase applications, by targeting a 36% year-on-year increase
  3. To increase conversions of applications into enrolments from 8% to 10%

The strategic approach

  1. A creative proposition that shouted ‘unique’

Through student surveys and interviews, it became quite clear that what students liked about this was the world-class UK degree and the fact that it was in the sunny climes of the beautiful island of Malta. From there, our creative proposition was born: ‘The best of both worlds’.

We pushed the boundaries of creativity, with brilliant digital-first executions, ensuring we got cut through in what is quite a traditional market.

  1. An engaging content strategy

We backed this up with some brilliant content pillars to bring life to the campaign and every touchpoint.

Some of the best ideas from the content editorial boards hit the cutting room floor, but this was only because we had so many, so we had to be extremely picky with what we chose to produce across year one. In this interactive prospectus and content hub ‘The Med’ (studymedicinemalta.com) you’ll see many examples of the engaging content we created.

Here are some of the best student collaborations.

Meet the insiders: 

This was interviews with a range of faculty, students, locals, marketing team that asked the same three questions each time:

  • Why do you love living here? (Life)
  • What makes the university experience so special? (Learning)
  • What’s the one place you tell people to visit? (Location)


Gautam’s top 5 must sees: 

We chose a series of high-profile students including Gautam Datta, a 4th year student and President of the Gozo Society, to reveal his top five destinations on the islands that you shouldn’t miss and why. This was a partnership with Visit Malta with a Queen Mary spin.

Gozo Coastal Challenge: 

We worked in collaboration with two students to develop a fun and energetic way of showcasing the best of Gozo through a timed challenge. 6 different modes of transport and 2 activities in a day. The aim was to get prospective students to fall in love with everything that Gozo had to offer.

  1. A digital first media strategy

Detailed customer journey workshops ensured we delivered the perfect balance of brand and activation digital media, meaning that not only did we capture demand, but we also inspired it.

Awareness and consideration channels

We chose to mainly use social media to drive awareness and salience among different audiences, while also generating response and allowing us to place different creative and messaging in the newsfeeds of our segmented target audiences in a native format.  ​

​Research from Global Web Index showed that amongst international students, social media platforms were almost at parity with search engines for brand research purposes.​ ComScore research showed us that amongst all Paid Social, Facebook (and Instagram) dominated student reach and engagement. ​

The visual formats of Facebook and Instagram, such as Video, Instant Experiences and Carousel formats, gave us the opportunity to address students’ motivations and barriers, providing detailed information and rational reasons to apply.

We used application data including email addresses to build up a custom audience which enabled us to re target individuals on Facebook. From there we also created Lookalike audiences of people with similar characteristics.

Higher education websites gave us the great advantage of high organic search rankings, due to providing students with trusted and highly engaged relevant content and lead gen opportunities. These portals receive high traffic levels from in-market students and offer various forms of profiles and inventory that are ideal at raising awareness. We also partnered with Keystone, The Student Room and The Medic Portal.​


The inventory varied by provider, but all ensured high visibility and calls to action to engaged relevant students who were at the point of considering a medical degree.

Direct Response Channels

​PPC was our key channel for supporting our other ad placements and for capturing in-market demand at the point of most interest, whilst users were actively searching for relevant keywords.​

Our PPC copy utilised the new Responsive Search Ads formats (Google’s AI technology for combining the best performing headlines and descriptions) and remarketing strategies via RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads).

Successful outcomes

In total, 90 students enrolled to start the course in September 2022, which was 150% of the original target of 60 and over 200% of last year’s numbers. The breakdown of enrolments was 42 International, 13 EU and 35 UK.

Not only did we surpass the overarching SMART objective, but we also performed well in our other campaign goals.

  1. The campaign definitely raised awareness for the Malta Medicine course and this is evident through the numbers. Year-on-year traffic to the web page increased by 51% across the period of the campaign, a key metric in determining the impact of awareness activity on an audience. And the individual activities all outperformed benchmarks.
  2. Applications increased by 48% against the previous year’s campaign,12% more than the 36% hoped for.
  3. The content strategy was hugely successful and ensured that application to enrolment figures were 31% higher than they were the previous year – considering we were aiming for 8-10% we were delighted with the result. As well as being engaging and relevant, we used insight to inform messaging and deliver content that was ‘right place and right time’ for our audience.

If you want to know more or are interested in launching your own international campaign, then get in touch with nick.friend@hunterlodge.co.uk


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