THE UNIVERSITY OF GHENT EXPERIMENT

Short List
ClientGHENT UNIVERSITY (UGENT)
Category E02. Low Budget / High Impact Campaign
TitleTHE UNIVERSITY OF GHENT EXPERIMENT
Product/ServiceUNIVERSITY
Entrant MORTIERBRIGADE Brussels, BELGIUM
Idea Creation MORTIERBRIGADE Brussels, BELGIUM
Idea Creation 2 MORTIERBRIGADE DIGITAL MANUFACTURE Ghent, BELGIUM
Media Placement INITIATIVE MEDIA Hoeilaart, BELGIUM
PR MORTIERBRIGADE Brussels, BELGIUM
Production CAVIAR Brussels, BELGIUM
Credits
Name Company Position
Jens Mortier mortierbrigade Creative Director
Joost Berends mortierbrigade Creative Director
Philippe De Ceuster mortierbrigade Creative Director
Catherine Hermans mortierbrigade Copywriter
Laurie Lacourt mortierbrigade Art Director
Charlotte Coddens mortierbrigade Head of Production
Vincent D'Halluin mortierbrigade Strategic Director
Olivia Naudts mortierbrigade Producer
Anne-Cécile Collignon mortierbrigade PR Manager
Jonas Van Bael mortierbrigade Social Media Manager
Laura Deknock mortierbrigade Digital Strategic Planner
Sophie Bayeul mortierbrigade Head of Studio
Vito Latorrata mortierbrigade DTP / Graphic Designer
Jan Opdekamp Photographer
Tom Willems Caviar Director
Shana Duprez Caviar Producer

Why is this work relevant for PR?

The UGent Social Experiment was conducted to bring the university’s claim ‘Dare to think’ to life. It wanted to make students, future students and their parents aware of the importance of independent and critical thinking. The experiment had to create a debate about the role of education and the importance of critical thinking. The experiment was filmed and distributed to all major news channels. With a total of 18 Mio PR impressions the campaign was the most discussed topic for weeks and confirmed the UGent as most aspirational university of the country..

Background

Education systems vary from country to country. In Scandinavian and Dutch culture for example, young people are taught to stand for their opinion and question authority. In Belgium with its Catholic tradition, children still learn to obey and study hard, good results are more important than the art of discussion. So for students who are brought up in this culture, it’s not easy to speak up, certainly when they are surrounded by hundreds of other students. This campaign has an important emancipate role for the students. It should trigger them to speak up more easily. And grow to become independent, critical civilians.

Describe the creative idea

UGent (University Ghent) is one in the top 50 of the world's best universities in the world. It’s well known for its pluralistic vision and a firm believe in critical thinking. It’s claim: Dare to think. To find out if this critical thinking is really alive among students, we organized a social experiment. Three renowned professors launched fake and controversial statements in their classes. They challenged students to see if they would react. Out of more than 800 students only 7 reacted. It created a big debate in Belgian media about our education and the way it motivates students to stand out. Most of all, it proved that the claim of the University, ‘Dare to think’, was still very relevant.

Describe the strategy

Every university in Belgium is competing to get the best students of the country. Every year during spring, campaigns are launched to convince you students and their parents to make the right choice. As a university that promotes independent and critical thinking, UGent has to stand out and show that they are different. For more than 10 years the claim of the university is ‘dare to think’. We are confronted with fake news every day and even scientists are willing to manipulate facts to prove their point. So critical people, daring to stand out and let their voice be heard, are valuable. That’s why we decided to bring the reality of fake news and false statements to the classroom.

Describe the execution

During social experiment three renowned professors of the Ghent University launched fake and provocative statements in their classes. Well known professor Johan Braeckman stated that the theory of Darwin was not correct. Professor Mirjam Knockaert told that students lack the talent of entrepreneurship, while professor Lieven De Marez accused students of being addict to their smartphones. In regular lessons they mixed their classes with these statements, hoping students would react. They literally asked the students to give their opinion. But out of more than 800 students, only 7 had the courage to react. At the end of the classes, the Dean of the university showed up to congratulate the students. The whole experiment was filmed and put online. In no time all major news channels discussed the subject.

List the results

The campaign got more press coverage, than any other UGent campaign: 79 articles, meaning +280% in 6 days. Almost every Belgian news medium covered the story. Total Advertising value was 428.054 euro. Total PR value: 1.284.163 euro. Total PR impressions: 18Mio (Print: 4.136.800 + Online: 6.234.768 + Tv&Radio: 7.727.682)