'Authenticity meant letting go a little' - Behind the Campaign with 'CTRL your future'

Jamie Mancini, creative director at Karmarama, gives the lowdown on the agency's campaign for The Institute of Coding (IoC).

What was the campaign, in a nutshell?

The IoC needed a larger, more diverse group of people to sign up to its digital education courses. Our plan was to inspire young people to confront the societal barriers put in their way and show what’s possible with digital careers in a campaign called ‘CTRL your future’.

How did the idea come into being?

We used an audience-first approach where we focused on series of collaborations with tech innovators that resonated with our audience in areas they actually cared about: fashion, design, gaming and activism.

Then it was pretty simple – we briefed these opinion leaders to bring ‘CTRL your future’ to life in relevant culture spaces in their own way, really heroing the young women, non-binary, BAME, LGBTQI+ and disabled people who were making waves.

What ideas were rejected?

Any ‘ideas’ that came directly out of our brains.

Once we established the platform, the purpose of the campaign was to hand over creative control to the people who Gen Zs found inspirational in the digital space… and that wasn’t us (unfortunately).

Briefly describe the campaign planning and process

From sign-off to execution we were working in a time frame of about three months, so we had to crack on quickly.

A major saving grace was that a lot of the human insight work we’d done, plus clear direction from the IoC’s board, meant we hit the ground running.

The campaign was made up our five key collaborations/elements:

1. An event with digital collective DigiGXL comprised of three workshops – Coding 101, 3D Face Filter Design and AR Fashion Activism – and a panel talk that served to create hands-on experience for young women, non-binary people and transfolk, with additional filmed content from the day shared online.

2. A one-off, social-first film featuring three renowned gaming collaborators – London Gaymers, Black Girl Gamers and Frankie Ward – each speaking about three different barriers into the gaming world. Though the content lived on social, it was used to leverage editorial opportunities.

3. A team-up with Stemettes (the social enterprise that encourages girls and young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths) to host three live events across the UK to provide young people with the opportunity to interact with IoC spokespeople and ask for careers advice.

4. Enlisting all-female digital collective The Digital Fairy to support each of our three partnerships with content, social amplification and blogs posts.

5. A multi-layered influencer strategy with (YouTuber) Looking for Lewys and fellow social innovators to provide content in support of the campaign to key audiences.

What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

Authenticity was key, and that meant letting go a little.

Each element had to be true to the collaborators' vision, to the IoC’s ethos and, most importantly, to our audience – confronting the societal issues with potential digital solutions.

To make sure we were always doing this required a lot of reverting to the playbook and keeping us all on track to collaborate on, not control, the outputs.

How did you measure the results?

This was more than a typical PR campaign where we could say ‘it got loads of coverage’ (although it did); so for us, it was seeing the real-life success of it.

Our biggest win was seeing a 775 per cent increase in visits to the course catalogue only two months into the campaign.

But of course, we’re not going to ignore these results either:

  • Delivered 200 per cent on the coverage KPI
  • 4.4m in social media reach (to date)
  • 60 pieces of influencer content
  • 496 Twitter mentions since campaign launch

What's the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?

That we should all learn to code before AI takes over the world.

And that the young creators we worked with, and their wider networks, are making mind-bendingly good work and should be getting more recognition.

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