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WATCH ON DEMAND FROM 25 Jan 2021
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Why BT encouraged families to ‘Code a Cake’

Many parents struggle to help their kids with today's technology.

Analog Folk won the ‘consumer product’ category at The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries 2020 with its ‘Code a Cake’ campaign for BT. Here, the team behind the entry reveal the challenges faced and strategies used to deliver this successful project.

The challenge

BT briefed AnalogFolk to drive engagement of their new ‘Beyond Limits’ brand platform through digital channels, raising awareness of their ambition to teach 10 million people in the UK vital tech skills by 2025.

While mass awareness of BT’s overall ‘Beyond Limits’ brand platform message was driven through a high reach through-the-line campaign, the objective of this specific brief was to drive engagement with a more focused audience, showing them how BT’s Skills for Tomorrow programme can provide fun and engaging educational experiences.

The strategy

When we first considered Skills for Tomorrow, we initially jumped to the same place many others do. Children. We know there are hundreds of learning platforms out there for them, so why would they need another one?

Typically generations pass on information down to one another, from recipes to relationship advice to car maintenance. But one thing many parents can’t really help their kids with today is technology. In fact, it’s often the other way around. Parents are often labelled as ‘technophobes’, or ‘too out of touch’, but when we looked deeper, we found there was more to it.

Our research gave us insight into the relationships between tech, parents and kids. Parents are not necessarily bad with technology, but they are more wary of it and they don’t feel confident talking about it. Their kids, on the other hand, are fearless. They learn by doing, clicking and sometimes breaking. They adapt to new tech so fast that parents feel disconnected from their tech skills and therefore avoid talking about tech with them, leaving it to teachers and others to have these conversations. If parents couldn’t talk to their kids about technology, then what hope did they have in understanding the skills they needed?

We needed to find a way to help bring parents and kids together to share tech experiences. To do this, we wanted to find a common ground for both that felt safe. A shared understanding so it felt accessible to both parents and kids. So we picked an activity they had most likely done before together – baking. By using the familiar world of baking, we built our experience as a metaphor to teach three basic principles of code: sequencing, variables and repetition.

The campaign

We custom built and programmed 5 robot arms, each with up to 12 axis points to complete the baking tasks within the experience. To control the robots themselves, we used ARC software, which is motion control with Dragonframe software. It’s usually used to programme camera moves with cranes and sliders, so programming baking tasks along with giving our robots some personality made it extremely complex.

At each stage of the experience, you arrange simple, colourful blocks of code, then see the playful robots respond and carry out baking tasks. You can see the difference your choices make in a physical, tangible environment – without fear of making mistakes. From initial ingredients to mixing to choosing the theme for your cake (themes included Llama Piñata, outer space and robots – of course), each gave a specific lesson that let kids, and their parents learn the basics of coding. This helped bring each element to life in a unique way to keep users engaged throughout the journey. At the end, your cake is personalised with your name, so you can share it on social media. You can even download the recipe, complete with coding language, to bake your cake in real life.

The media launch was planned to coincide with the start of the school Easter holidays, but found even greater relevance as it was released just as the UK was going into lockdown, with millions of parents suddenly taking on the role of home tutors and in need of this kind of resource. We launched the activity through targeted social and digital display ads, boosted with influencer and PR activity.

The timing meant the campaign also got coverage online in specific articles calling out homeschooling resources to help parents. Following the paid media campaign, the experience lives on as a key learning resource on BT’s Skills for Tomorrow educational hub.

The results

We drove 89,250 unique visitors to the site, with 10,655 successfully completing the full experience during the campaign period of April 2nd to May 13th, which contributed towards BT’s overall goal of teaching tech skills to 10m people. In terms of brand awareness driven by the display ad campaign, a brand impact study run by Essence and media partner King showed an extremely high +38% point lift in awareness of BT’s Skills for Tomorrow initiative (against a benchmark of +13% points) and a visit intent lift of +6%.

“Code a Cake is a great demonstration of our ambition to provide essential digital skills and training to 10 million people in the UK. At a time when education at home couldn’t be more important, we hope this can provide a fun and constructive activity that both adults and kids can benefit from.” - Jo Trimmings, group brand marketing manager, BT.

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for Digital Industries 2020. To find out which Drum Awards are currently open for entries, click here.

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