A Vivid History

Open University

Project Scope

Search & Performance Media, Data & Analytics, Social & Content, Creative

 

Albert Einstein famously said ‘Any fool can know. The point is to understand’. The Open University is very much this theory in action. Since the 1960’s, The OU has been at the cutting edge of education practice. They’re renowned for bringing a diverse range of courses and innovative ways of learning to millions of people around the globe. 

 

At Huskies we were asked to develop a content strategy that would bring greater international exposure to The Open University. Working with an organisation that offers so much, to so many people can be a daunting task. So we did what we do best. We listened to what people were talking about. We carried out in-depth research into online search trends and conversations happening on social media.  It was this research that informed the creative we made.

We trawled the public archives and found a selection of black and white photos that showed the conflict from a different angle.

 

One topic that kept popping up was the upcoming centenary of World War I in July and August of 2014. There seemed to be a great appetite for content to commemorate this historic event and we saw this as an amazing opportunity to highlight The Open University’s Arts Faculty and History Department.

We noticed that there was very little photographic footage of that time period online. Many of the photos we did find were black and white and of poor quality. That got us thinking that maybe we could make the experience of these brave people even more vivid, while highlighting the unique approach The Open University takes to education.

 

A mobile pigeon loft, enabling messages to be sent from the Front Line back to headquarters. Records show they delivered 95% of their messages correctly.

 

So we trawled the public archives and found a selection of black and white photos that showed the conflict from a different angle. We then teamed up with a photo restoration expert who re-mastered and colourised each image. The result was this stunning collection of photographs.

 

“That got us thinking that maybe we could make the experience of these brave people even more vivid, while highlighting the unique approach The Open University takes to education. ”

 

Having publishing the colour photographs on The Open University’s website, Huskies needed to carefully spread the word at the most opportune time to maximise exposure.

Online research led to an understanding of when the discussions would be at their peak around the World War 1 centenary online. Huskies then used this information to develop a content seeding plan and to ensure distribution was as successful as possible.

Websites and blogs centred around war and history were inevitably publishing content around WW1 before the centenary reached full public attention. These were the starting point for Huskies, with the photographs sent to a selective group of influencers to gain initial feedback. With the response being overwhelmingly positive from historians and enthusiasts, the photos were then distributed out further to communities which were identified as being relevant.

 

We developed relationships with press outlets in the UK, Ireland, US, France and Germany. 

 

As the key dates approached for the WW1 centenary, Huskies developed relationships with major press outlets. National press in the UK, Ireland, US, France and Germany were all provided with high resolution copies of the photos based on an understanding of their respective content plans. Follow-up information was then provided to the press where requested, such as the original black-and-white images, and interviews on the project itself on behalf of The Open University.

With a significant number of high-profile placements secured, the photographs became increasingly popular through social networks such as Facebook, leading to tens of thousands of shares.

The results, in relation to spend, were phenomenal and surpassed our predefined objectives. Interest in the colour images grew rapidly as influential websites began to publish them and as people continued to talk about them online. The Open University received praise across social networks, blogs and forums as the images were poured over and discussed, leading to further press requests and distribution opportunities.

 
 

Over the campaign period, the following results were achieved:

  • Over 100 pieces of online coverage achieved during summer 2014 (inc. links back to the website) [far exceeding the target of 30 pieces], delivering over 20,000,000 media impressions and an earned media value in excess of €265,000.
  • Blog/press coverage gained from 21 different countries (from Ireland and Italy through to Argentina and New Zealand), with 50+ pieces of international coverage [far exceeding the target of 10 pieces]
  • The page on The OU website received 32,918 pageviews (29,243 unique) during July/August 2014 [far exceeding the targeted 2,000 visits]
  • There was over 20,000 shares of the images across social media (Twitter/Facebook)
  • The colourised images appeared on TV in America (PBS Newshour in August 2014)
  • The images were on the front page of The Metro, The Mirror, and MSN News, as well as appearing in the likes of The Express, PBS, Telemundo and Gizmodo.
  • The images appeared in Sweden’s biggest daily newspaper (offline and online), Aftonbladet
  • The Arts and History Faculty Department at The Open University was inundated with requests and permission to re-distribute and share the images


This project proves our belief that when people with different skills work together seamlessly, the ideas that are created always have infinitely more colour.

 

Approximately 100 websites/blogs (and counting) have shared or published the images online.

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