How engaging students with designing our advertising campaigns helped us hit the right tone
Early 2018 and the Churchill Gowns team are spitballing marketing campaigns to engage our target customers: students. There’s a lot of ideas, ranging from the ‘too safe’ to the downright bizarre but with each suggestion comes a niggling doubt: it’s a little too long since we were students for us to say with any confidence whether this hits the right tone or trying too hard! The niggling doubts develop into screeching alarm bells and, by the end of the day, we’re talking agencies…
But we need an agency of young people. Who can talk to students. Students can talk to students. We need students.
And there was our answer. Instead of just guessing whether or not our campaigns sounded like the voice of youth or the voice of your dad, why don’t we ask? Better yet, why don’t we get them to dream up the campaigns to begin with.
The next step was to find a group of students we believed had the right skills, not only to come up with an online campaign but also execute it. The Digital Advertising and Design students at Ravensbourne were a natural fit. We briefed the class on all things Churchill Gowns, from our origins and brand, to our USPs and our ambitions for the future, but when it came to the creative side that was entirely in their hands. We had only one rule - as the target audience for our products, they had to produce something they would love themselves.
45 students worked on the brief in teams over the course of ten days, as part of their curriculum. Then came the pitches. As it was real world experience we were offering them, it only seemed right that they get the experience of coming to our offices, presentations in hand, to pitch to our Managing Director, Ollie, and me.
To say we were blown away by the 14 ideas we saw would be an understatement. Without exception they were fresh, funny and designed to a professional standard and totally different to anything we had thought of ourselves. Selecting winners was going to be much tougher than expected!
Rather than just offering a cash prize and walking away, we had said all along that we wanted to give the students an opportunity to get their work out there, get some real insights and get some more hands on experience. That’s why, when we designed the competition in partnership with their tutors, we promised to put advertising spend behind our favourite four ideas. This would then enable us to feedback real data about what our audience responded best to and, the team who got the most engagement online, would be invited back to do a paid internship with us. This was a real leap of faith, as we were banking on having four pieces of content that we would be happy to put our name to and put money behind. As it happened we needn’t have worried.
So after much deliberation we’ve narrowed down our shortlist of four and are going to be sharing these across Facebook and Instagram over the coming month. Please keep an eye on our channels and support the students by sharing, commenting and liking your favourites - not that we think you’ll need any encouragement once you see what they’ve come up with!
Director of Operations, Churchill Gowns