Let’s All Go To The Countryside!

Well, you thought it was all over! Deadlines? What the hell are they? Hah! I laugh in the face of deadlines. Frankly I’ll laugh in the face of anything, I’ve not had a holiday in so long I think I’m going delirious.

So what exactly have I been working on the last week and a bit? Well, first off there’s placement interviews. They’re tomorrow, in Glasgow, and I’m just going to act naturally I guess, not much more preparation needed aside from piecing a portfolio together. There’s a potential placement for Brand Union, who have asked us to effectively do a project for them to win the placement. I’ll cover that later.

Then there’s the Marketing Society Awards. I’ve not really spoken about it, but during term time it was mandatory to enter the competition. All you did was write up a short answer to a brief and submit. Obviously the idea had to be pretty damn good to work without pictures, and luckily mine apparently was. And I’m presenting it this Thursday. Eek! But worry not, I conveniently did all the work already. Now I just need the thoughts straight in my head. Hence the blog. It’s all coming together now.

The brief challenged us to find a way to get more young people visiting National Nature Reserves, run by Scottish Natural Heritage. They want more of my age  group to visit these wide open wild spaces and they want us to do the convincing. I looked at it from a few different angles, and ultimately found a few issues I had to overcome.

First off the currently advertised image of Scotland is not intended to attract younger Scottish people outdoors. It’s intended to welcome outsiders into the country, tourists mostly. That or it’s aimed at older audiences, who enjoy ceilidhs and walking around the countryside. Blegh. Walking, right? So the perception of what Scotland was needed to change. The way in which it was portrayed was a key fault in attracting younger people. We’d only really seen one side of it, large mountains, small villages, quiet lochs – all very idle. Young people don’t want idle. They like Transformers and explosions and Facebook, and you won’t find them in a loch. The big question was how to make the rolling glens of Scotland feel more ‘rock and roll’ without becoming tacky and condescending.

Secondly the big question raised, if you propose a visit to an NNR is: “but why?” These NNRs can feel like empty spaces, instead we need people to see them as blank canvases. We need people to start using them creatively and see the potential there is in such vast and beautiful settings.

Thirdly there needed to be a social aspect to the project. It’s not just specific to the age group. People if they’re going on a day out, especially a day so far out of town, like to be with other people, and this is perhaps doubly true for the age group in question. I needed to attract groups of people out of cities and into nature. But how..?

The solution I developed in the end was for Scottish Natural Heritage to curate a film contest, to create a short film set in a National Nature Reserve. Held in close correspondence with a film or culture magazine such as free Scottish culture newspaper The Skinny or London film magazine Little White Lies this contest would offer not only publicity in the sponsoring magazine but also funding towards the winners’ next project.

One of the best things is that filmmaking it social by nature. It involves directors, actors, sound engineers, cinematographers, scriptwriters, editors, producers… even small productions need these roles filled. The youth of the world have all become filmmakers thanks to YouTube and Vimeo so why not grasp that opportunity and creative outlet to encourage people to use the NNRs creatively, and stop them seeing it as a blank space, but instead as “The World’s Greatest Film Set.”

The Highland Film Challenge is branded to counteract the idle nature of current promotion. It’s utilises bold and unforgivingly geometric shapes and when in motion is loud, filled with fiery, erratic film burns. The basic concept of the adverts it to hint to a film set in the great outdoors. The film must be either popular or have ‘cult hit’ status, and the film is only ever hinted to. This is an attempt to trigger a guessing game, to suggest the more fun and playful twist on marketing already in play. It’s also an attempt to start discussion between film fans. These example films are selected to show the breadth and depth of cinematic possibilities available in the NNRs. See if you can guess what films I’ve chosen from the images below. They’re a bit tricky, but don’t worry, you get a quote from the film in the cinema adverts I’ll be presenting.

HighlandFilmChallenge Withnail Poster 2  HighlandFilmChallenge Rambo Poster  HighlandFilmChallenge LOTR Poster


Aiming the adverts at cinemas seemed the most obvious choice, alongside advertising the the sponsored publication. It’s a place where film lovers congregate and talk about everything film related. It’s almost as if our campaign’s conversation and dialogue has already been started off for us.

Social media would also play a key role in the campaign. Submissions would go through YouTube, to allow ease of sharing and public viewing. If posted the the Highland Film Challenge’s own page it would also allow for a degree of control over entries, so you won’t be getting more pessimistic films like ‘Attack of the Killer Midgies’ infesting the contest. Additionally a theme from the off would help control the user-generated content to a comfortable degree. Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr would also be avenues to explore, being the main places people socialise, and more importantly share, online. Entrants sharing their film and the Film Challenge page would be close to viral marketing, and would spread the campaign to a global audience.

Magazine Mock-Up

That’s all I’ve got to say about the campaign so far. I might blog on it again closer to Thursday. In the meantime wish me luck for my internship interviews tomorrow! It’s looking like it might be a crazy summer again…

Listening to: Starship Trooper by Yes


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