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BBC TV Licensing marketing reaches university students

BBC TV Licensing marketing reaches university students

Best practice from Proximity.

This campaign won ‘Best Integrated Campaign’ at the Precision Marketing Awards. It was short listed in three categories at Cannes and won a Bronze Lion for Commercial Public Services.


Every separately occupied household in the country with a TV needs a TV licence – and that includes a room in a hall of residence. Around 45% of students take a TV to university, and need to buy their own TV licence or risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000. However, awareness of this amongst pre-university students is understandably low.

The aim of the campaign was to ensure that all students are fully informed about the need for a TV licence, and be provided with details on where and how to buy one before they potentially break the law.

Proximity London came up with an integrated, multi-channel campaign, making contact with first time students at over 30 different touch points along their journey into academic life. This campaign cleverly targets students at three key stages of this journey: in their parents’ homes before leaving, at the point that they arrive at university, onwards into the academic term.

First time student’s financial priorities often focus on socialising, and the majority value each other’s opinions far more than those of advertisers. Every aspect of the campaign was therefore designed to harness the power of word of mouth, and draw students into spreading the message themselves.

This was achieved through a core creative idea, inspired directly by students themselves, of ‘anti-humour’. Wherever students came into contact with Proximity’s anti-humour campaign, they were drawn into ‘jokes’ reminding them of one thing – ‘It’s not funny watching TV without a licence’.

Posters blitzed over 250 university sites across the UK (some of them personalised for students who had visited the stand at Fresher’s Fairs). Students arriving in their rooms were sent ‘Good Luck’ cards telling them how to get a licence. Stickers on their aerial sockets and post-it notes on their PCs reinforced the message.

The ‘It’s not funny…’ message was also revealed in unexpected places around campus like libraries, using well placed bookmarks, book covers and joke pens. There was also a large digital element to the campaign. Proximity used student websites, banner ads, emails and even SMS to get the message across.

Finally, the piece-de-resistance: they even involved students in making their own ‘It’s not funny...’ TV programmes, by filming their un-funny jokes which were aired on TVs all around their campus (topped and tailed with the line – ‘Remember comedians, it’s not funny watching TV without a licence either’ and a strong call to action to visit the website).

The campaign used a fully integrated approach, combining detailed material sent through the post by Royal Mail, with digital, word of mouth and encouraging active participation and involvement.

The campaign delivered a 25% year on year uplift in sales and a return on investment of 12:1.

Furthermore, the contribution of the ‘component parts’ of the campaign were also directly quantified. Proximity used an innovative evaluation framework, known as ‘Brick Analysis’, specifically designed to evaluate a complex, integrated media mix.

The analysis shows how different elements of the campaign combined to impact on sales in practice, proving that an integrated approach can really work.

The analysis revealed benchmark results for different media mixes, including One ‘Brick’: a base level of sales attributable to ‘Broadcast’ activity, mass mailings, inserts, BBC trails and public relations.

Two ‘Bricks’: incremental sales generated by introducing additional targeted direct mail in the mix, which resulted in a 30% increase in sales. Three ‘Bricks’: the contribution of niche targeted Student TV to the above, increasing sales by a further 30%.

Four ‘Bricks’: the quantified impact of deploying a fully integrated, multi-channel campaign across all 30 touch points, producing nearly twice the sales as ‘Broadcast’ alone.
The success of this campaign hinged on the implementation of integrated marketing and placing the students at the centre of the planning process. It allowed the message to touch the students’ lives in the most effective manner with everything they do.

Using an integrated approach was central to the success of the campaign. Students are living away from home for the first time, so often need to be provided with detailed information, as well as simply being made aware of issues that have not previously affected them.

Digital is an ideal medium for communicating short messages, and increasing awareness, while Royal Mail delivered more detailed information through the post on how to go about getting a license.
Public services and government organisations have important messages to deliver, but not only this, they need to influence and often change consumers’ behaviour. The success of this campaign demonstrates how an integrated approach can enable government budgets to work harder and smarter to impact on consumers’ lives.

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