Oxford University's COVID-19 Response
From the Nominator
In January 2020, Oxford’s researchers met to discuss approaches to the emerging novel coronavirus. By the time the virus was sequenced, a vaccine team was ready for action. As the pandemic spread, researchers across more than 50 departments were contributing to a lifesaving vaccine and new treatments, engineering ventilators and tests, investigating the impact of lockdowns and working directly with international bodies. Oxford’s research was world-leading, and this campaign’s role was to ensure it had the right impact.
The University’s Public Affairs team pivoted immediately to produce a global COVID-19 campaign strategy. We focused on telling a powerful story about Oxford’s research excellence and its practical application to help address COVID-19's global challenges. The campaign achieved global awareness of Oxford’s key messages through a people-focused approach to scientific storytelling, profiling the researchers behind the science combined with timely, accurate and easily digestible information on Oxford’s coronavirus research and public health messaging, including specific work to combat disinformation.
The campaign achieved record outcomes, contributing to perception shift around Oxford research, establishing the University as a leader in science/medicine among our target audience and making Oxford the ‘go-to’ institution for stakeholders. In addition to generating positive perceptions of Oxford, the communications campaign supported hugely successful fundraising and new long-term conversations around future needs in global health research.
Internally, the campaign brought together more than 150 senior academics, supported by hundreds of researchers – leading to positive retention among student offer-holders, record engagement with internal communications and evidence-based business choices.
From the Judges
This is a top-tier strategic communications campaign telling how Oxford's researchers successfully led a race for lifesaving treatments, and sharing that story daily as it played out to the entire world. From media relations to digital campaigns to social media to video production, this all-expansive innovative communications and marketing strategy positioned Oxford quite well. It also had measurable and enormously impressive results. Sometimes you need to tell the outside world what you are doing, and that is just what they did here.