In a world saturated with campaigns addressing the STEM skills shortage, Tin Man brought a lasting legacy to The Institution of Engineering and Technology. The campaign changed the perception of PR within the organisation and secured senior management buy-in for bolder tactics in the future. Based on thorough research, Tin Man used creativity and well-thought through channels to integrate the things that kids love – from chocolate to Harry Potter – to make them think about careers in engineering. Working collaboratively, Tin Man and The IET ran a campaign that truly represents best practice in PR, from planning to execution and measurement.
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Portrait of an Engineer
Brief and objectives:
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (the IET) is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions. Engineering accounts for 19% of UK employment but there’s a massive shortage of engineers and in particular a lack of women entering the sector which is posing a threat to the economy.
Tin Man’s brief was to:
- Engage kids aged 8-16 about careers in engineering
- Increase consideration of careers in engineering
- Challenge outdated perceptions of engineering being ‘for boys’
Rationale behind campaign, including research and planning:
Our primary audiences were children aged 8-16 with a focus on girls, as well as their parents. We knew from existing research that 54% of children know nothing about engineering and other research told us that 37% of parents wouldn’t be comfortable describing what an engineer does. In short, both kids and parents aren’t clued up on engineering, let alone inspired at the prospect of a career as one.
The fact is that almost everything that kids experience in life involves a serious amount of engineering – their phones, social media, the tech that helps them with their homework, even the
food they eat – they just don’t realise it. Also, the message ‘consider engineering’ has the instant ‘eye-roll’ factor for kids. Our job was clear, we had to engage tweens and teens emotionally with engineering and dial up relevance using their passions and interests. We knew traditional media and approaches would not cut through kids. So the age old strategy of ‘fish where the fish are’ began to come to the fore… If we could embed the messages about engineering in their passions in life and via the channels they consume, then maybe they’d start to make the connection.
So, what are their interests? Focus groups allowed us to understand their motivators. They told us amongst other things that they love social media, music, teen literature, theme parks, tech and importantly yet unsurprisingly, sweets and chocolate…
We also wanted to look at and celebrate the qualities that make engineers special. These qualities are problem-solving, being inquisitive and working out how things work and why… An instinct that comes naturally to so many kids and one that should be nurtured.
Strategy and tactics, including creativity and innovation:
Tin Man’s strategy came at the intersection of this insight. Enter #ISeeMore… A content driven campaign which purely targeted our tween/teen audience through their passions and the digital mediums they engage with. To literally let youngsters go behind the scenes, explore and ‘see more’ through the engineering of brands they love. The 9-month long #ISeeMore campaign was multi-faceted. Firstly, we wanted to let our audiences ‘see more’ and then we wanted to let them ‘do more’ by experiencing engineering for themselves.
Implementation of tactics:
- The #ISeeMore YouTube series. We spent months finding and negotiating with the perfect teen YouTubers to go behind the scenes and ’see more’ about some of their passions in life. We sent one to Warner Bros Studio, the Making of Harry Potter, one to Chessington World of Adventures, one to Twitter HQ, one to music-tech app Shazam and one to Fun Kids Radio. Each YouTuber introduced their following to the world of engineering and the engineers behind these exciting, creative and diverse companies. As the films were released, the views and engagements racked up (and are still being watched now) with roaring success.
- The #ISeeMore Engineer a Chocolate Bar of the Future challenge. Having ‘seen more’ through the YouTube series, this was where we let our audience ‘do more’ and try their hand at it. Knowing that our audience is mad for chocolate, we brokered a partnership with Mondelez International, confectionary giant and home to some of the nation’s favourite snacking brands such as Cadbury and Maynards Bassetts, and developed a nationwide search for a budding engineer who could design and engineer a chocolate bar of the future. We enlisted Great British
Bake Off star and engineer Andrew Smyth plus head innovation engineer at Mondelez to act as judges and delivered a content-packed campaign highlighting the engineering behind the humble chocolate bar. Through video content, social content and traditional media we blitzed the media with announcements, profile pieces, a shortlisting stage and a winners’ day at the innovation kitchen at Cadbury World. Having Andrew Smyth as our ambassador was timed perfectly as the new series of GBBO had started on TV and the media clambered over each other to speak to him.
Measurement and evaluation:
Did we engage kids aged 8-16 about careers in engineering?:
- Our YouTube series was viewed 61,000 times, with an engagement rate of 24% and reached 690,000 people (mainly 8-16s)
- Through the many layers of our campaign, we achieved 552 pieces of coverage including 33 print/broadcast/online nationals
- Additionally, we secured 442 regionals and 41 lifestyle / consumer pieces
Did we increase consideration of careers in engineering amongst 8-16s?:
Independent tracking research measuring sentiment amongst the target audience pre-campaign and after seeing campaign materials showed:
- Consideration of careers in engineering jumped from 31% to 78% after seeing campaign assets
- 75% felt more or much more positively about careers in engineering having seen the collateral
- 77% believed that with engineering you can make a difference in society (up from 58% pre-campaign)
Did we challenge outdated perceptions of engineering being ‘more for boys’?:
The tracking research showed that:
- 81% believed that engineering appeals to both boys and girls post campaign, compared with 40% pre-campaign – a jump of 102%
- The image of engineers as men in hard hats that the audience holds decreased from 50% to 27%
- Those who thought that engineering is a career more suited to boys / men (52%) changed their mind – with only 19% agreeing to this statement post campaign
Was the client happy?
“Through #ISeeMore we’ve been able to change perceptions amongst our target audience. Tin Man’s campaign was intelligent, considered, strategic and delivered fresh and dynamic elements of activity throughout the year. We’re looking forward to an exciting 2018 campaign with the team.” – Christopher Knibb, Head of Comms, the IET.
Budget and cost effectiveness:
Total budget: £110,000.
Our packed programme meant that every penny mattered. We negotiated every third party cost, left no media opportunity stone unturned and delivered an uplift in consideration of engineering careers, from 31% to 78%. Happy days.