So, the outcome of the UK general election last week is the most interesting one a man of my tender years can recall, as we still await confirmation of who will govern our country for the next few years or, more likely, months.
In the run-up to the election, The two universities in Nottingham (Nottingham Trent and The University of Nottingham) got together to co-ordinate a billboard campaign in conjunction with the NUS campaign voteforstudents, aimed at highlighting the size and strength of the student vote. The campaign was based around the issue of the ever-increasing cost of higher education in the form of the controversial top-up fees which were introduced a few years back.
Statistics show that the average debt per graduate currently stands at £26k per person; this adds up to a staggering average debt of £1 million per 39 students - something which clearly needs addressing if degree-level education is to be accessible to all.
The campaign strategy played on this statistic by spelling out the word ‘HELP’ with a clever arrangement of 39 students. I shot the campaign using student volunteers situated on a grass verge which was scouted by the campaign team. The students were all given white t-shirts for uniform(-ity) and were arranged into position by me shouting instructions from third floor University office nearby, which did wonders for the office-workers concentration, I can assure you.
Once the shoot was in the bag, I put together the artwork for the billboard, keeping with the simple white on green colour scheme. The copy, which is hard to read in these photos due to this particular billboard being spliced for ad rotation (and said splices being a bit wonky), reads “Students graduate from university with an average debt of £26k. 39 students represent a combined debt of £1million. Help them: voteforstudents.co.uk”.
The campaign ran in the city for a month prior to the election and was also sited on a further two static billboards which, unfortunately, I never got a chance to photograph, but were much more readable than the squiffy one presented here, though the text can just about be made out in this close-up…
Feedback from the campaign team is that it was a success, with student voting turnout being significantly higher than it has been for over a decade.
*Update: one of the campaign team sent me a photo of one of the static boards, which shows everything much more clearly than the spliced ones…