Send something to space to make kids say 'Wow, science is cool'
Who is ya?
Glasgow Science Centre is one of the UK’s leading science centres and is one of Scotland’s leading tourist attractions but it had a challenge, it had to find a way to engage with the next generation, to continue to grow visitor numbers they needed to find a way to engage the next generation’s interest in STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Maths) They wanted to create and and execute a summer brand awareness/brand building campaign to encourage new visits to GSC, especially their new website, they also wanted to raise general awareness of the science centre itself.
Head in the clouds victory
In all Studio Something briefs we like to ask what is your ‘head in the clouds’ victory? What is the big dream? We all know that we need to sell more tickets, raise brand salience etc, that’s the meat and potatoes, what is the yorkshire pudding? The prize? It give us all a lottery win to aim for. GSC told us there’s. They would know that they had really broke through in the mainstream science community if Professor Brian Cox tweeted about them.
‘we want to grab the attention of Professor Brian Cox and have him retweet whatever we do’.
This was an ambitious thought but one that was backed up with reason, Professor Brian Cox had come to embody and exemplify the profile that Glasgow Science Centre wanted, he was the approachable yet informative face of science, and kids loved him. He was science but cool. That’s what we wanted, to put science in front of young audience in such a compelling way that they forgot they were learning. We had a mission, make science cool.
We’ll get back to the bad boy of physics soon.
Down 'n' durty
A long way from old Coxy was the down and dirty brief – get visitor numbers up. To drive up the numbers, we needed to get kids to want to go, which would make parents want to buy.
We knew from research that kids were the deciding factor in pushing parents on where to go in school holidays, if a kid showed an interest in science, a parent would then be likely to foster this in anyway they could, and taking them to GSC could be one of those ways.
We now just get kids interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths)?’ Easier said than done. Our thought was, what if we could make them watch science without the baggage of feeling like they are being ‘taught something’, we had to get passed the perception that if it was educational it would be boring. We needed to sneak in the backdoor, we had to be educational malware for the spongy little brains.
Vegetables in with the sweets
Our plan was simple ‘hide the vegetables in with the sweets’. Make kids like science without them even realising that they were into science. We looked at where kids were currently consuming science, it was in two places, school (boring) and YouTube (fun).
Science was in fact all around kids, some of the best performing YouTube channels amongst 13-18 year olds were science based, of the top 100 most subscribed YouTube channels in this demographic 10% of them were science-based or used ‘experiments’ as the basis for their content. They were already watching science, they just called it ‘experiments’.
We had a plan, get to the young people with fun engaging content that ‘snuck science’ in front of them and use those children as our tiny little ticket trojan horses.
But with such a crowded landscape of content They were unlikely to seek it out, we knew that whatever we did needed to be PR’able, bold and stand out. from an as yet untrusted source. It had to be thrust into their orbit.
Glasgow Science Centre prides itself on delivering science in a uniquely Glaswegian way, with a down-to-earth attitude that allows them to discuss quite technical issues in a humble manner. What if we could learn from these shows on YouTube that we knew our audience were interested in and give them a Glaswegian twist? Just like Glasgow Science Centre does in it’s facilities. Science but Glaswegian. What if we could create a scientific spectacle, with a uniquely Glaswegian twist?
If they can fake a moon landing?
The premise of ‘Glasgow Science’ was borne, a show about science with a Glaswegian glint in it’s eye, early ideas were ‘How fast can Buckfast?’, ‘What’s the land speed record for a square sausage?’ and ‘Can you make Scotland rain proof?’, we knew that to gather real attention though we needed a big stunt, something that could capture the imagination of the nation. Our criteria was – It had to be a true experiment, it needed to be ambitious enough to make young people wonder and it needed to feel Scottish. Scotland has excelled at many things, but one race we have never really entered was the space race, could we put Scotland on the ‘space’ map? We chowed down on some of Scotland’s finest snacks as we pondered. As we bit through the humble Tunnock’s Teacake we had our gravity defying moment. Could we send the much-loved Scottish snack the Teacake into space and stream it live online? And could we make it a live must watch event, think the moon landing for Generation Facebook. Space X but a wee bit more Fort Kinnaird than Fort Lauderdale?
Houston, we have a teacake
For a further PR hook, we ‘chose’ our launch site with our tongue firmly in our cheeks. The Scottish space program could only launch from one place…Houston…Renfrewshire. A bowling green in Houston Renfrewshire to be precise.
Water 'cool'er social
We wanted to create a moment that had to be seen and could provoke ‘scientific’ debate around it, The launch and subsequent ascent to space would be streamed live to Facebook, where we would interact with everyone interested in the teacake’s journey. We chose to utilise Facebook live as we knew that the platform itself was promoting live video, especially those with high comment rates. We believed that this experiment would be likely to provoke high engagement, and could create a ‘bang’ around engaged users. ‘Is this real?’, ‘How are they doing that?’, ‘Can you actually stream from space?’ Through Glasgow Science Centre’s education programme we also alerted all schools on their database of our launch and encouraged them to watch along in class.
We have lift off
Within a short space of time the video had been shared and tweeted by major Scottish news outlets – The Scottish Sun, The Daily Record, The Herald, The Scotsman – and shortly thereafter it became UK news as The LADBible, BBC News, SkyNews and many more shared this adventurous event to their millions of followers. Thanks to Facebook Live and back-up from Twitter, the ‘bang’ had occurred and suddenly we had tens of thousands of viewers and hundreds commenting and engaging on both Twitter & Facebook. By the end of the 2-hour ascent into the stratosphere, ‘Terry The Teacake’ had become worldwide news, with the Live video being shared by media in Russia, China, Australia and the USA,
But most importantly… We had tickled the scientific tail of our main attraction Professor Brian Cox.
He waded in with his thoughts as he shared the video and poked fun at those with a flat earth viewpoint. Our success was confirmed by the means we wanted to measure it – the face of ‘cool science’ had recognised and engaged with our Glasgow Science stunt.
Science was cool. Send for the regatta.
But to quickly ‘uncool’ it, the admin bods at THE GOVERNMENT got involved
But, had ‘Glasgow Science’ helped in anyway in getting numbers up at Glasgow Science Centre both online and through the door. Website visitors – users and sessions were up by 20% in the first 3 months of site launch. Comparison between the same three month period of 2016, little activity, and 2017, Terry orbiting, shows that the number of sessions and pageviews increased in excess of 50% comparing the two periods.
There was also a shift towards a higher proportion of returning visitors to the website over the past few years and in September 2017 GSC started having more returning visitors than new visitors.
The teacake was up, the numbers were up. Everything was up.