Royal Society of Chemistry

A not-for-profit organisation that has made advancing excellence in the chemical sciences its goal, the Royal Society of Chemistry appointed Mobas to evolve an existing creative campaign ready to engage a previously untargeted demographic – Gen Z. By taking unconventional creative inspiration, using multiple levels of audience testing and social insight, we delivered an omnichannel campaign with legs that encourages teens to choose a career in chemistry.

Robust audience testing

Not-for-profit youth marketing

4.5 million YouTube views in 3 months

“From the outset, Mobas brought energy and creativity to the brief, and surprised us with the creative concept – identifying the word ‘try’ in chemistry was truly innovative and something we had not recognised ourselves. It resonated with the audience insight driving the campaign, and the pre-launch testing gave us reassurance it would work with this new target audience.” Claire Southgate, Brand and Communications Lead, Royal Society of Chemistry

Be brave, bold and surprising

Over a number of years the Society developed the effective  ‘Not all scientists wear white coats’ campaign, which aimed to show chemists, and those who work in the chemical sciences, in exciting and unexpected scenarios at work to dispel the myth that chemists only work in labs. The campaign was successful among teachers and educators but had not been targeted directly at the student audience. As numbers of students opting for chemistry at A-level and university entered a period of steady decrease, the Society wanted a campaign that would speak directly to the next generation inspiring them to pursue a future in chemistry. In 2019 Mobas’ task was to create a campaign that engaged the next generation of chemists and drove them to reconsider their options. 

We are not the audience

Speaking to teenagers about chemistry is a twofold challenge. Not only is there the common misconception that chemistry can be abstract making it seem a complex subject to study for some teens. But unlike those before them, Gen-Z teenagers are digital natives, consuming 68 videos a day and spending an average of three hours a day online. With this in mind, we looked around the project team at our first client meeting and noted that the youngest team member was a decade too old to truly empathise with our target audience. We knew at this point that robust audience profiling and testing would be essential to the success of this campaign. We had to develop a campaign ‘with’ and not ‘for’ Gen Z!

Causes not careers

Data shows that Gen Z wants brands to support a cause. They see themselves as global citizens, believe brands have more impact than governments and want to run their own businesses. We at Mobas find these values inspiring and know that a passion for a cause can turn into a career with the right guidance. What’s more there are a wide range of globally critical careers that require a background in the chemical sciences, but that aren’t necessary conventional career paths, or things young people assume can be your ‘job’. They may not even be ‘jobs’ yet but will be in the future.

Chemists are game changers who have social, economic, environmental and political impact. Chemists transcend race, religion and geo-political circumstances. Chemists make a difference. That was our inspiration!

Try. Making the Difference.

After learning about our audience’s motivations and values, we decided to challenge them! Our campaign would throw down the gauntlet and offer them the chance to make a difference and turn causes into careers; our creative is asking them to ‘try’ to change the world using chemistry.

The creative device ‘CHEMIS-TRY’ was decided very early on and plays on the inclusion of the word ‘try’ within the word ‘chemistry’. Conceived as a call to action, it was designed to put a series of direct challenges to the audience.  


Science but make it street.

From a style perspective, we designed the campaign to be young, edgy and deliberately simple. The typeface was chosen to have a revolutionary feel and the minimal campaign colours – black and white – allow the images themselves to inject colour and texture, giving each piece its own unique feel. The tone echoes the edginess of streetwear and fitness campaigns from companies such as Vans and Nike.


Asking the audience

During a four-month development period we tested our creative direction no fewer than five times with our target audience, ensuring that our vision resonated with the target demographic every step of the way. Using a mixture of testing platforms from the conventional method of sending posters to school teachers to share with their classes, to using apps specially designed to gather in-the-moment responses to questions around video creative, we asked over 600 people in our target audience for their feedback on Try. Making the Difference before settling on final creative. 

Instant social success with long-term results in mind

The nature of this campaign means we won’t have a full picture of its success for several years. However, we worked with the Society to decide upon measures of success for this first phase prior to launch and agreed that social metrics and website traffic would be the most immediate and effective indicators. In the first three months since launch the campaign has received 21 million impressions through both organic and paid advertising on multiple social media platforms, including Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook and YouTube. The campaign also tallied up over 4 million views on YouTube and an impressive 50,000 sessions on the website. 

As for impact, 12 months after launch, we surveyed first-year chemistry students and, of those who saw the campaign, 27% said THE CAMPAIGN POSITIVELY IMPACTED THEIR DECISION TO STUDY CHEMISTRY AT UNIVERSITY, including 5% who said it was an important factor. 


Building on success

It is clear that the campaign is resonating with young people. This year – more than ever – they need support in making their educational and career choices. Our plan is to develop the campaign to track them as they weigh options, take part in exams and plan their futures, providing information and support along the way.

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