CategoryG06. Breakthrough on a Budget
Idea Creation ISOBAR Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
Media Placement INITIATIVE Sydney, AUSTRALIA


Name Company Position
Simon Coghlan Isobar Associate Client Partner
Samantha White Isobar Senior Project Manager
Augusto Jacquier Isobar Senior Designer
Emma Park Isobar Creative Director
Tom Wilson Isobar Senior Solution Architect
Amna Tanveer Isobar Senior Business Analyst
Himani Shah Isobar QA Analyst
Cliff Chiang Isobar Head of Technology
Andrew Bednarz Isobar Associate Technical Director
Lindsay Dryhurst Isobar Designer
Jess Fletcher-Mowat Isobar Producer

Why is this work relevant for Media?

School leavers are some of the most hyper competitive and hard to reach audiences, and with a ‘game-changer’ idea of a simulated open day but a modest budget, we needed to be unmissable to get prospective students playing. We did this by culturally diffused SWINTOPIA by transforming all OESP touchpoints into an 8-bit universe. Proudly stealing all conventions of blockbuster gaming launches, from pre-orders, leaked influencer gameplay, to dominant media placements, we got their attention and got them playing. The more they did the more it powered a hyper-personalised remarketing campaign, tailoring future engagement based on their unique ‘on-campus’ experience.


Open Days are a rite of passage for the 200k Year 12 students that graduate in Australia each year, the all-important opportunity to get a real feel for the experience firsthand everything a university can offer them. Yet, in 2020, the closest they could get to campus was one of the many identical university websites they’d already read top to bottom. As Covid cancelled universities' most powerful recruitment tool, Open Day, Swinburne University of Technology needed an innovative solution to still achieve critical business objectives YoY. 1. +50% campaign leads 2. +10% growth in total VTAC (school leaver) preferences 3. +5% growth in VTAC (school leaver) first preferences

Describe the creative idea / insights (30% of vote)

Enter SWINTOPIA (https://swintopia.swinburne.edu.au/), a gamified simulation of the Swinburne experience in a virtual, open-world. More than just another ‘virtual tour’ offered by every university, SWINTOPIA allowed prospective students to freely explore the campus, join social clubs, explore courses, interact and connect with faculty members and other students directly, and even collect exclusive Swinburne swag. By pivoting to pixels, we were able to offer the total experience of Swinburne to more students than ever before.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

Primary Audience: High-School Leavers. In researching media behaviours of school leavers during Covid, one activity peaked above all …gaming. In just 8 weeks of Australia’s lockdown, gaming category spend increased a massive +179% YoY, time spent playing went up 19% and Twitch was nearly broken by a +57% increase in streaming. Our insight was simple: As the real world closed, virtual worlds opened. …but it unlocked a powerful opportunity to replicate our Open Day experience for students and demonstrate the uniquely aspirational experience that Swinburne, as a university of technology, could deliver. Our strategy? Turn Open Day into Open Play. We reimagined Swinburne in a virtual open world, gamifying all elements of a traditional open day. To get future students to play, we proudly stole all conventions of blockbuster game marketing and applied them to our entire OESP ecosystem to capture attention, drive attendance and outplay our higher-budget competitors.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

We launched by rebranding Swinburne’s entire OESP ecosystem as SWINTOPIA, in full 8 bit glory. To fuel intrigue and anticipation we recruited AFL and TV personalities to leak 'beta plays', socialising out across TikTok etc reaching 2 million young Australians. Broadening scale, we enlisted youth publishers Buzzfeed and Pedestrian to create 8 content pieces seeded across web, social and EDMs - reaching a combined 3.5M young Australians. This is alongside the 12.2M earned PR impressions generated at launch. Highly concentrated outdoor, screens and geo-targeted mobile activity ensured critical catchment areas were saturated to increase preference among not just school leavers, but the parents and employers who influence their university decisions, and maximise event attendance. All of this driving Swinburne’s highest ever Open Day attendance and fuelling our hyper-personalised remarketing engine; tailoring all future engagement with students based on their what they saw, did and collected at SWINTOPIA.

List the results (30% of vote)

The campaign truly exceeded all client expectations and previous (physical) open day results. Despite spending less on the development and promotion of SWINTOPIA compared to previous years, the campaign activity drove: • 12.2 million PR Reach • Campaign landing pages visits up +72.4% YoY. • +124.5% YoY uplift in lead capture (+200% above target). • +30% growth in VTAC first preferences (YoY) (4x target). • +18% more VTAC preferences overall YoY, 3 times our target and the highest increase amongst all Victorian universities. “Despite the challenges of 2020, limited budget and a highly competitive category, the SWINTOPIA campaign delivered the most successful Open Day campaign in the university’s history. Not only did Swinburne successfully engage its target audience, but we delivered an immersive and relevant brand experience – an innovative and tech-rich experience at every turn ”. And with 51% of players returning multiple times, we know our target agrees.


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