A productive Pandemic

giffgaff academy - gaming
giffgaff academy - website
giffgaff academy - coding

Launch date: 11th May 2020

The Client

giffgaff, the mobile network run by you

giffgaff is a UK mobile network and MVNO. Founded in 2009, giffgaff originated as a challenger in the industry, created to empower its community by handing over the power to its members. Offering incredibly competitive rates and continuing to grow through forums and community hubs, within 10 years the company has flourished. Today, it is well established in the industry, winning multiple awards and becoming one of the biggest virtual network operators in the UK while most importantly, still putting its community first.

The Goal

In the wake of lockdown being announced, the world retreated into their homes and onto the digital space. giffgaff, which prides itself on being a mobile network run by its community began to notice a desire amongst its members for productive ways in which they can spend their new found free time. For many, this was an opportunity for personal development projects such as learning to code but for a larger group of people, an urgent need to re-skill for their careers and livelihoods was also identified.

E-learning was also a buzzing topic of conversation on wider digital channels and publications as many A-level and university students sought new ways to access online education. NUS research reported that 80% of undergraduates were worried about how they will cope financially and many students expressed concerns about a lack of access for free educational resources available to them.

With this information, giffgaff knew that it needed to take a stance and asked Mc&T to respond in a way that resonated not just with its community members whilst but also supported the wider digital audiences need for free e-learning resources.

giffgaff - The Herald - p11 - 16.05.20
Coverage in National Print Media

The Challenges

As challenges go, a Pandemic is a pretty big one. Within a few weeks, normal life had completely transformed with the public being confined to their homes and pushed onto the digital space in order to stay in connection with each other. Loneliness and disconnection was becoming common for those social distancing alone or in shared accommodation.

Elsewhere, homes were not only transformed into multiple working spaces but also classrooms, as many found themselves struggling to meet both work and classroom requirements within limited space. For many students, their focus on home learning was diminishing as the lockdown continued. In fact, data from a survey performed by the Office for National Statistics revealed that 16.7% of secondary school pupils were reporting a loss of between 20 -30 hours of classroom time by home learning during April 2020. Another report, for the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) also found that a third of pupils were not engaged with their lessons.

Mc&T were ready to respond with an omni channel digital strategy which would allow giffgaff to connect the disconnected amongst their members whilst providing a free online resource for those seeking knowledge on digital skills.

The Solution

Mc&T developed The giffgaff academy, an online educational hub which was open to all.

This digital school was hosted on the giffgaff hub and users could obtain introductory classes from the highly respected digital tutors:

  • Former Oxford researcher and Python code expert Giles McMullen, who educates his 184,000 YouTube followers with his inspirational videos on programming with python.
  • Popular developer and YouTube creator Ania Kubow, who specialises in teaching Javascript by creating retro games in her instructional videos for followers.
  • Mabintou Kolley from “Coding Collabs” a programme which connects young Black Ethnic Minorities with career mentors within the tech and digital development industry.

The academy provided classes on various digital skills such as coding and website building, which users could take from the comfort of their own homes and most importantly, at their own pace.

To determine which classes the academy consisted of, research was conducted via giffgaff members and a wider digital survey to investigate knowledge gaps and the subjects that the UK public had the most interest in developing.

giffgaff academy - skills
giffgaff academy - subjects

The campaign harnessed an omnichannel strategy, combining traditional press outreach and a digital marketing approach. In order to maximise digital visibility for this campaign, it was shared on both the giffgaff social channels and the influential academy tutor accounts, thereby reaching new audiences. Mc&T also organised an email alert to go out to the giffgaff members which earned over 10,000 page visits within it’s first day.

Finally, Mc&T conducted research to generate traditional coverage, highlighting the public’s sentiment towards their knowledge gaps. This secured a plethora of traditional press coverage and naturally acquired followed backlinks to the giffgaff academy landing page.

The Results

To date the campaign has earned:

  • 5 pieces of national print coverage about the campaign, including The Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Star
  • Bolstered by 24 pieces of Digital coverage highlighting the research and linking to the academy The Independent, The Sun, The i, ShinyShinyTV
  • Earning a total of 11 followed backlinks to the giffgaff site
  • Influencer partnerships earned an engagement rate of 1.6% on Twitter and their academy class landing pages gained Google page rankings
  • To date over 16,000 visitors to the hub including 8,000 unique new visitors to the giffgaff site