In 2018 Marketing Week ran a pair of articles highlighting the need for marketing degrees to properly equip graduates to meet the expectations of CMOs and the workplace. Here at Lancaster, we work hard to make sure that our programmes balance that divide between theory and practice. Fortunately we are one of the North Western Universities in England annually invited annually to take part in Two+Two – an initiative established by Stockport based creative recruitment agency Creative Resource.
Julie Ollerton, MD and founder of Two+Two spotted an opportunity to bring together would-be employers with students; marketing and creative talents; to take part in a one day, live brief. Every year, hundreds of students join their peers and employer mentors to respond to a live brief for a real client, which has included tackling issues such as youth loneliness, organ donation and paediatric first aid. Working together with students from different universities and courses, mentored by agency volunteers, teams pitch their campaign ideas to win a place in the final – judges from global agencies like McCann, Havas Lynx and 21GRAMS join with their clients to crown the winner and provide work experience opportunities; bringing their ideas to life. ‘Lisa Jones, Talent Director for 21GRAMS is a supporter of the event ‘because it provides us access to students from universities across the region and gives the students the chance to develop critical collaboration skills – working at pace and under pressure with people they’ve never met before.’
In Feb 2020, Two+Two ran as normal, only with a lot of extra handwashing! But in 2021, like everything, we were forced online. Not to be deterred by a global pandemic, the only subject that mattered this year was vaccination, and the uptake of the vaccines amongst young people specifically. Set against the backdrop of reduced internships, work experience and graduate roles, students from Lancaster and around the north signed up to put their online learning into practice in real-time! It may have been two-dimensional this year, but they didn’t do us any less proud – flying our colours high in five out of six shortlisted teams and bringing home gold, silver and bronze home to campus!
First-year Marketing Management student, Theodora Mihai, was eager to take up all the advice to get involved beyond her studies, or at least as best she could during a remote year. Despite her nerves as a first year amongst graduates and postgraduates, she found her feet with her team as they brainstormed, conceiving their idea, scripting their ad and preparing their pitch presentation. Together, their campaign “Get Your Selfish Little Prick” took the top prize! She said:
“This event for me did more than award me with a prize, it also gave me back my confidence in myself and proved to me that I can do it!”
Coming in second place, 2020 Marketing Management graduate Jennifer Allen (pictured left) and her team created the cheeky “Increase your chances” campaign concentrating on how much of the dating scene the 18-25s have missed out on during lockdown. After a tough year working for the NHS on the coronavirus response, and having struggled to find a graduate job, Jenny said ‘In just one day I felt like we made so much progress, and it relit my motivation to keep applying to grad jobs’
Bringing home 3 out 3 for Lancaster in third place, 2020 Advertising and Marketing Graduate Chris Will and second-year Marketing Management student Charlotte Simmonds’ (pictured right) team came in third with their campaign idea based on Chris’ own phobia – “The Fear of Needles shouldn’t be greater than the Fear of Missing Out”; and a TikTok campaign all designed to show what you can do in 10 seconds, the time it would take to get the vaccine. Chis said ‘Coming in the top 3 provided some great industry recognition for the skills learnt at Lancaster, this has given me confidence that this is an industry in which I can see myself and make a difference.’
We may have a stunning campus in a beautiful green part of the country, but we recognise the limitations of the employment opportunities on our doorstep. So across our entire degree programme, we work hard to integrate practical briefs, case studies, consultancy projects and employer interaction, but making the most of external initiative will always add significant value to our students. Being able to pit their wits against other graduates, testing their ideas with industry professionals and showing would-be employers what they are made of. Monica Tailor , Head of Digital for McCann Manchester (home of Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot!) considers the event a key opportunity to talent spot in the region as well as putting students in the situation where they have to work cross-discipline, at pace and under pressure, as they would do in the real world. Over the past four years our students have indeed brought home many prizes from Two+Two but most importantly – they have secured three internships and five graduate roles across Manchester, London and New York as a direct result of our involvement!
Julie Ollerton, Two+Two founder and Creative Resource MD said of the Lancaster contribution:
“Lancaster University has been instrumental in our delivery of the Two+Two event, they are an inaugural partner involved from the planning stage each year. Their annual input has helped us to ensure that the students get the maximum benefit from the event; on the day itself and with placement and employment opportunities. Students are supported and encouraged and this is reflected in the number of their students on the winning teams!”