01 Feb 2022

Inspiring the next generation of chemists: Best Use of Video winner 2021

Entries to the Memcom Excellence Awards 2022 are now open. To inspire you to apply, this series will highlight the achievements of last year’s winners.

Advancing excellence in the chemical sciences is the Royal Society of Chemistry’s goal. In order to appeal to the next generation of budding chemists, and reverse the trend of declining applications to study chemistry at university, the RSC created a video campaign showcasing the various career paths available, as well as the role chemists play in overcoming the urgent challenges facing today’s world.

As the Society’s entry to the Best Use of Video category in the Memcom Awards 2021 explains:
The suite of videos produced demonstrates that chemistry is an exciting, impactful, and diverse career option to pursue, targeting young people (13–19-year-olds primarily) at the point where they have a chance to refine their studies and potentially drop chemistry as a subject. The aim is to inspire teenagers and broaden their horizons, regardless of gender, race, religion, or socio-economic background.”

The design elements for the videos were tailored to appeal to this target audience. For example, the original score drew “inspiration from grime, EDM, and 80s/90s hip-hop. The tone echoes the edginess of streetwear and fitness campaigns from companies such as Vans and Nike.”

Each video was themed around the creative device ‘ChemisTRY’ alongside a series of calls to action, such as ‘ChemisTRY Making the Difference,’ ‘Innovating Industry’, ‘Changing Lives’, and ‘Challenging Opinions.’

The case study in each video champions a young chemist, who describes an issue and talks about how their work contributes to tackling it. ‘Chemis-Try: Being the Catalyst’, introduces Celine, an analytical technician who is developing ways to alter the structure of plastics, so they become biodegradable in the natural environment. ‘Chemis-Try: Fixing the Future’,  features Lewis, a research assistant who is contributing to cutting-edge research using specialist equipment to diagnose diseases more quickly.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Society created a video entitled ‘Saving Lives’, which illustrated how chemists were playing an active role in combating the virus.

Given the magnitude of the decision students are making about their future career, the videos were also targeted to parents using parallel social media campaign strategies.

This integrated campaign was founded on a combination of rigorous audience testing, research, and strategic planning. The data gathered by the Society clearly demonstrates the impact it has had.

In the first year since launch the videos achieved:
A total of over 6.2 million views on social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and Youtube; 226,862 clicks through to the campaign microsite and a brand awareness level of 34% amongst the target demographic of teenagers.

As well as being used in schools, the RSC has received requests from chemistry departments at universities who wish to show the videos during their open days. Employers in industry have also expressed interest in participating in future videos.

The 2021 Memcom awards judging panel who awarded this work ‘Best use of Video,’ were impressed by the project’s clear goal and demonstrable results, the creative device ‘Chemis-try’ and the clear narrative thread linking the videos together. The panel also noted that the case studies capture the interviewees’ genuine enthusiasm for their chosen career.

For more inspiration, read about the winners of the Best Sustainability Initiative category here.