Choosing a course to study after year 12 is hard. The last thing students want is a 150 page PDF course guide to flick through. This is exactly what every uni in the country gives them, including Billy Blue… until now.
We have been working with Billy Blue College of Design alongside our sister agency VCCP and Augmented Reality agency Unbnd to reinvent the traditional course guide experience.
With an ambitious enrolment target across 2020/2021 and their mass lead-driving activities and events not possible due to COVID, Billy Blue needed to reimagine how we could connect with prospective students to start their adventure into the world of design and creative technology.
Every university has a course guide, the epicenter of the institution’s marketing communications strategy, spouting claims of industry connections, world-class alumni, and state-of-the-art courses. An impressive collection designed to demonstrate why you should choose to study with said university.
The increasing problem with these hundreds-of-pages-long documents is that most prospective students have no idea what they want to study, so bombarding them with reams of information is a turn-off at this early stage. In fact, research shows that the attention span of a 15–18-year-old is just 8 seconds, so the content put in front of them needs to hit home in an instant.
Over the course of working with Billy Blue on their brand identity and years of collaborating with their parent, Torrens University Australia, we’ve come to learn that nearly half of students don’t respond well to learning by being told. They want to see things instead. This insight led to a few clear objectives for the project:
An Augmented Reality (AR) experience felt like the right solution from the beginning. Not only would we be able to show course information in a more visually engaging way, but it would provide a platform for showcasing student work like never before. Putting alumni design work right in front of you, wherever you are.
‘Adventure into Design’ gives you the option to choose your design path and discover what it might be like to study at Billy Blue if you were to enroll. Upon activation, a bright pink signpost materialises in front of you presenting 5 directions, each one taking you into a different ‘world of design’.
Each world visualises a landscape inspired by a different discipline: Graphic Design & Comms, Branded Fashion, Interiors, Media Design & Creative Technology. Opening up into a landscape of design elements synonymous with each discipline, featuring and inspired by student work of alumni past and present.
We even snuck in references to industry partners and nods to timeless design classics such as the New York City subway signage and old Nintendo gamepads.
Inside the experience, users are invited to discover each original piece of student work and, in doing so, unlock the back story of the work, the student who produced it, and even launch into a microsite with more information about the course they studied.
Not only is the experience activated via QR codes, but we turned the classic prospectus cover into a digital marker that activates it on a scan with your phone’s camera. If we couldn’t completely move away from the physical book, at least we could bring the digital world along with it.
An accompanying microsite helped to promote the experience, provide even more detail about students’ work & stories and even give people the chance to peek behind the curtain to see how it was conceived, from sketches to final renderings.
Building the experience was only part of the challenge. What would be the point if people didn’t know about it? So running in parallel with the AR build we developed a multi-channel campaign to promote it.
A visually striking out-of-home campaign teased audiences with an Alice-In-Wonderland-style ‘Scan Me’ message alongside the recently repopularised QR code, unique to each location, inviting people to scan and launch the experience while waiting for busses in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. We gave nothing else away about the experience, only the intrigue of the white 3D design objects.
Remember that 8-second attention span?
What better way to engage with an audience that only concentrates on dynamic visual content than on TikTok. We stretched 8 seconds to 15 with a hyper-short form ad designed to look and feel like real influencer content. The execution worked so well that the ad itself was inundated with comments asking for ‘follow backs’ and congratulating us for tricking them.
We ran this alongside a series of micro-influencer films where young people tried out the experience and documented it for their followership. To date, these videos have collected over 15 million views.
University marketing is hyper competitive. Every school, college and uni out there is vying for prospective students — it’s a crazy landscape with a lot of voices to contend with. This AR deployment for Billy Blue sets a cat among the pigeons, raising the bar for education providers in Australia by challenging the traditional methods of engaging new students. I’d love to see other unis follow their lead.
Every university has a course guide, we’re not like every other university. Luckily, SomeOne isn’t like every other agency. Ours was far from a small challenge – together we rose to the brief and the first-of-its-kind solution was a testament to the power of innovation, collaboration and creative problem-solving.