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Digital Day: Inspiring the Next Generation

Passion Culture

We love getting out and about in south west London, especially when it involves making a difference to local communities and giving back. Last week we headed over to St John Bosco College as part of BIMA’s Digital Day which inspired us to write a blog post on why the day was so valuable to both the school and us.

At a recent exposition in Dubai, Nigel Huddleston – a government representative from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – said “humankind’s creative and technological talents will be key to demonstrate resilience and innovation, and shape the sustainable society of tomorrow”. If we are to survive on this planet, we need technological innovation to improve our use of renewable energy, improve our access to green transport and digitally communicate the importance of individual efforts against climate change.  

There needs to be buy-in from younger generations to get involved in digital industries in the future, and that’s what Digital Day is all about. I think we can all agree that teens today are the most digitally savvy of us all. These teenage Gen Z’ers have grown up with WiFi at their fingertips and touchscreen phones as their bread and butter. They know and understand digital in an instinctive and intuitive way, so introducing them to how it can benefit their lives in the long run and their future careers is something we should be obliged to do.

BIMA thinks Digital Day can ‘change young people’s lives forever’ and we wholeheartedly agree. There is somewhat of a harmful myth that the world of digital is a male dominated, rather ‘geeky’ field, where, to play ball, you have to be good at ‘techy stuff’. Changing this narrative is incredibly important for young people today and the future of this industry.

In reality we know the digital sphere is full of a range of people with different talents. From creatives and marketers, to graphic designers and coding wizards. At Passion, all of our team have specialties in different areas; it’s what makes us who we are. Digital is an industry that is incredibly broad, fast-paced, ever-changing and slap bang in the Zeitgeist of our times. 

With a generation that is so used to the digital world, we wanted to get them excited about it all over again.

What is Digital Day?

Digital Day is an annual event masterminded by BIMA – a community bringing together the UK’s digital and tech companies to drive forward innovation and best practice – which involves digital agencies across the UK partnering with a school. The day involves presentations from the agency as well as a challenge carried out by the students. 

Passion’s Digital Day 2021

As soon as BIMA announced this year’s Digital Day we had a swarm of Passionistas wanting to take part. We were partnered with St John Bosco College, a thriving school in the heart of Battersea and we had a classroom of around 20 students taking part in the day. This meant only a couple of us were required. Naturally, I elbowed my way through along with Helen, one of our wonderful Paid Social Account Managers, to bagsy our spots – don’t worry we’ll give the other Passionistas a turn next year. 

Each year the challenge that students address at Digital Day changes, and this year’s was more relevant than ever. Students took on the role of a digital agency and had to respond to a brief set by a hypothetical client – the WWF. The brief was to create a digital/tech product or digital communications campaign to raise awareness and make it easier for individuals to understand the true environmental footprint of products and services. Pretty topical with COP-26 being in full swing at the time. 

Before we set the students this challenge, we did a short presentation on Passion Digital and how agencies work. It was helpful when preparing this to think about what we would have wanted to know at that age (17-18 years old) and I recalled that at that time in my life (and often still to this day!) I had no idea that some of these jobs existed, let alone understand the process of businesses selecting external companies to manage marketing campaigns, product launches or research.

It was useful to take this step back and provide the students with exciting information such as the various roles within an agency – if you’re a numbers person then PPC could be the place for you, if you’re a great writer then the Content team could be your sanctuary – to encourage them to consider a future career in digital marketing.

When we set the challenge, we took the students through three key phases before their presentations: research, design and delivery.

Stage one – research

The research stage involved the students using their laptops, phones and any digital device they could get their hands on, to understand WWF’s current digital presence. They looked at what information or products are already out there which are aiming to make it easier to understand environmental footprints. It’s quite daunting to be given a laptop and told to research anything and everything on a topic in 35 minutes. Where would you start? Therefore, we made sure we went round to each group to guide their thoughts. It was a challenge for us not to instruct exactly what the students should be researching. We had to perform more of an advisory role, igniting and encouraging thought processes and steering them onto better tracks if the research started looking to be going off-piste.

Stage two – design

This was where we were really taken away by the fantastic creativity that these young people showed. After understanding what’s already out there, the groups worked together to design either a technological product or a digital communications campaign.

Once they had finalised their designs they moved onto stage three, which involved preparing for the pitch.

Stage three – delivery

The way students approached this stage really varied and is testament to there not being a one size fits all strategy for preparing for pitches. One group created an in-depth PowerPoint presentation with their own logo to communicate their idea at pitch stage, while another group focused on communicating their idea through a Q&A style pitch, with a team member placed in the audience asking relevant questions throughout. 

After a short break it was time for pitches. Helen and I, alongside Ms. Perrineau-Daley, acted as the client with each group presenting their idea to us. We then asked them our questions to get the students really engaged with their product or campaign and draw out some elements of their designs that may have needed further explanation. It was a tough process picking a winning team – each group’s idea had merit in its own way. Therefore, we decided to not only have an overall winner that we send to BIMA to judge against other schools’ entries, but also create specific categories that each group could win in. For example, one group came up with a fantastic digital game where your avatar combats litter fiends as well as picking up environmental pollution to gain points. Although this wasn’t the one we selected as an overall winner, we awarded this group ‘Most Creative Idea’.

The winner

Our overall winner was a wonderful team that designed their own logo for their product and we were blown away by their thorough approach to the brief. They presented us with a few slides on environmental damage and the importance of the issue WWF is trying to address before moving onto their idea: VR to demonstrate the impact of climate change and QR codes on textile recycling bins. The idea is two-fold, with the first being a personal headset or app on a smartphone to virtually transport users to major landmarks around the world. Take New York for example – the VR headset would show how the area will change over 50 years, given the rate of climatic change at this point in time. This is impactful in raising awareness of the importance of reducing our environmental footprints.

The second strand to their idea is using QR codes on textile recycling bins to open an app on a smartphone, so that when you place a piece of clothing in a recycling bin you can gain rewards. These rewards take the form of a donation to WWF, so this commercial element really stood this group apart from the competition.

We enjoyed the day and the positive verbal feedback from the students at the end was really rewarding to hear. The importance of the day isn’t something we can easily measure, but we hope we have demonstrated the exciting nature of working in digital, the range of opportunities in the sector and, through the challenge, illustrated how the childrens’ ideas can change the world.

At Passion we’re devoted to ensuring that everything we do reflects our values and participating in Digital Day certainly does just that. We’d love to connect with like minded businesses, so if this resonated with you and you need some assistance with your digital marketing please get in touch – we’d love to meet you.