How a VCCP digital campaign laid the foundations for modular bamboo housing in Manila

VCCP was highly commended for ‘Best Digital Campaign’ at The Drum Social Purpose Awards 2019 with its campaign for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Here, the agency reveals the challenges faced and the strategies used to deliver this successful campaign.

The challenge

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) wanted to celebrate 150 years of accrediting surveyors within the land, property and construction sectors.

Chartered surveyors are misunderstood, and by extension, so is the royal-backed organisation that supports them. A Google search for ‘chartered surveyor’ spits out stock images of middle-aged men with white hard hats, dodgy ties, and laser measures. This dry perception is damaging the flow of future talent. Young people want big challenges, to be surrounded by diverse ideas, and to contribute to the community. At the moment, they don’t consider surveying.

How could we show that there’s more to chartered surveyors than meets the eye, and help fill the future talent pipeline?

We worked with RICS to set ourselves key challenges:

  • Drive awareness of RICS, especially among students and young professionals.
  • Shake off RICS’s perception as an aged, self-serving organisation.
  • Aim to convince that RICS can make a real change in society, serves the public interest and is a modern and international organisation.
  • Engage a more diverse range of students and young professionals than RICS currently attracts.

In addition, our campaign would rest on one particular goal:

  • Encourage students and young professionals to make a difference to cities and the built environment, targeting 500 quality proposals.

The strategy

These clients were never going to buy a big, beautiful, heart-wrenching brand campaign. They wanted a hard-headed idea that would drive efficient results.

Fortunately, surveyors’ accomplishments extend beyond adhering to rules; their skills also allow them to generate life-changing ideas outside building regulations.

For example, victims of disasters and conflicts are need of humanitarian aid items and safe drinking water. Surveyor Frank Lund launched Aquabox, a plastic container full of aid items (cooking utensils, children’s clothing, hygiene equipment) that doubles up as a water-filtration unit. 110,000 Aquaboxes have been shipped to over 50 countries, supporting hundreds of thousands of people. Not bad for a guy that checks for signs of damp in your flat.

But how could we show that surveyors effect big change across the globe?

The campaign

Instead of throwing RICS a party, we launched Cities For Our Future.

We produced a short film highlighting innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing city problems. This hero film lived on our Cities For Our Future microsite hub, and we distributed shorter versions across Facebook and Instagram to targeted audiences.

We also partnered with student body, UCAS, to email all university students studying relevant subjects, and used PPC to drive additional site traffic. All creative used a CTA to encourage the audience to download a brief relating to a city of their choice, answer a challenging question, and submit their proposal.

We applied our question to specific cities around the world...

‘Share your transformative ideas for projects and policies that solve some of the defining issues of our time: rapid urbanisation, climate change and resource scarcity.’

Our prize? £50,000 to make your winning innovation a reality, and a chance to change the world. Our judges were the best in their fields. With centuries of experience between them, we had representatives from the World Bank, the Green Building Council, and Unesco. This lot can smell innovation a mile off.

Innovation sat at the heart of the judging criteria. Our mentors sought ideas that:

  • Demonstrated a hunger to make a difference to society.
  • Offered unique answers to new or lesser known problems.
  • Could genuinely be put into practice in the real world.

From January to May 2018, we watched as hundreds of entries flooded in from around the globe.

The results

The response to the campaign was both overwhelming and humbling. Our results assigned to each objective were as follows:

Drive awareness of RICS, especially among students and young professionals.

•13.7M social media impressions (+37% vs target)

• 157k PPC impressions (+31% vs target, 1st position average)

• 73k UCAS emails opened (+46% vs target)

• 85 press coverage pieces (+183% vs target), from 20 countries (+300%)

• 5 live TV and 4 live radio broadcasts

• 538m worldwide PR reach (+438% vs target)

Shake off RICS’s perception as an aged, self-serving organisation.

• In a survey of 500 students, 83% of respondents told us that they thought RICS could make a real change in society.

• On a scale from 0-100, when our study asked to what extent RICS served the public interest, our score was 68.

• On the same scale, when we asked to what extent RICS comes across as a modern and international organisation, we scored 74.

Engage a more diverse range of students and young professionals than RICS currently attracts.

• 47% of traffic came from women (+22pp vs target)

• 78% of traffic from those aged 16-34 (+18pp vs target)

• 69% from non-UK markets (19pp vs target)

Encourage students and young professionals to make a difference to cities and the built environment.

• 1,200 quality proposals (double the stretch target)

Our winning entry is the strongest indicator of the our results. The £50,000 prize went to Earl Patrick Forlales, with CUBO – his vision for low cost, modular and dignified housing for low-income communities in Manila.

A single CUBO home can be manufactured in a week, constructed in four hours, costs just £60 per square metre, and can be rented for as little as £0.20/day. It’s effective anywhere tropical in the Southern Hemisphere or with a source of bamboo, a material which releases 35% more oxygen into the environment than trees and can grow back in 3 months.

Earl’s received global investment offers. CUBO’s been debated in the Filipino House of Representatives, and Earl has received direct recognition from the WEF and WHO. Most excitingly, Earl is currently on track to house 10,000 slum dwellers in Manila during 2019.

This project was highly commended in The Drum Social Purpose Awards 2015. Click here to register your interest in next year's awards.

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