Battle of Brains

OMD, Hamburg / EVONIK / 2016

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The war for talent is raging in Germany. Big companies are aggressively wooing Millennials, an elusive group with high expectations towards employer brands and career. Recent studies confirm that 78% of Millennials are influenced by how innovative a company is when considering even the chances of working there.

The challenge: Evonik Industries isn’t one of those names that typically come to their minds when thinking of innovative brands.

That’s why Evonik wanted to enhance its perception of being an attractive, innovative and creative employer specifically targeting students at top universities in Germany. An objective that previous, more traditional employer branding campaigns had failed to achieve.

So this time, we presented the brand in a new, unprecedented way.


For leading specialty chemicals company Evonik, we converted an original Wurlitzer snack vending machine into an arcade-inspired quiz machine.

Students at universities across Germany could challenge each other to play the “Battle of Brains”, a complex quiz with more than 1,500 questions about technology, science and business. On two tablets used as controllers, students solved the questions in a directly competitive situation, clock ticking. Mastering all questions in time required equal adeptness in all fields – a rare combination even among top talents. But the effort was worth it:

The competitors could not just win exclusive prizes from tech devices to personal development programs but more importantly were able to compare their skills to those of other students at 10 selected universities across Germany.


The “Battle of Brains” machine was built from an original Wurlitzer snack machine, dissembled and equipped with new software and hardware, including a 4k screen and an illuminated display made of Evonik’s Plexiglas™.

Academics from various areas designed the questionnaire with more than 1,500 questions about technology, science and economics. Mastering all questions in time required equal adeptness in all fields.

Then the machine went on tour, visiting 10 German top universities. A combination of social media, outdoor and student magazines was used to announce its arrival on campus.

On two tablets used as controllers, students competed against each other for highly coveted prizes like Beats headphones. A landing page with real-time leaderboards enabled contestants to follow the scores and to compete with students from other universities. The 10 best of the best would score an extra prize: an exclusive invite to the Evonik Student Network Day

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