Some of the world’s best storytellers go on to Hollywood and become Oscar-nominees. Luckily for us, others go into higher education and produce cinematic videos to attract new students to campus.
Each year, we discover dozens of these online recruitment videos that spark something in us.
Whether they’re filled with passion, humor, information, or pride — these videos capture the energy of their institutions in a way that deserves recognition.
And that’s exactly why we love celebrating them with the Kira Award!
This year, our six final nominees (listed alphabetically by institution name) are:
London Metropolitan University - Do Something You Love
Why this works
With more than 1.3 million views, it’s clear that people are watching this video and we can see why. The team at London Met captures the essence of fun in every shot.
By incorporating bright colors and introducing us to an enthusiastic host, they totally engage the audience. And they have been doing so since 2015, when the original Do Something You Love campaign first launched.
In marketing, it’s not uncommon to fall back on fluffy, vague statements to help sell something.
But this well-written script hits on specific programs, facilities, and technology that the school offers. Not to mention, it does so using humor – an element that’s highly subjective to one’s own taste.
When done wrong it can leave people scratching their heads, but in this video they manage to get it right — so kudos to the team!
The video, which was published in October 2018, ends with a timely message: Start this January. Leaving the audience with a clear call to action is a great way to wrap up a recruitment piece.
Purdue University - 150 Years of Giant Leaps
Why This Works
In just sixty seconds, Purdue manages to position itself as a school ahead of its time and a place where people aren’t afraid to dream big. They highlight some of their biggest accomplishments while also painting a picture of all that’s left to achieve.
This video showcases different pieces of technology and course offerings at Purdue. From kinesiology to robotics engineering, we’re given a glimpse into the school’s selection of diverse programs.
And the scene where the running horse is being observed in a lab gives a great example of the research opportunities that await.
With the first and last lines both leveraging their campaign theme of “150 years”, a seamless experience unfolds for the audience.
But there’s another element to the campaign that caught our attention, and that’s the social media effort. On Facebook, the video garners over 110,000 views, 900+ reactions, and 600+ shares.
These data points, in addition to the general engagement with the hashtag #TakeGiantLeaps and branded profile page, illustrate how Purdue’s campaign is successfully generating a community of Boilermaker pride.
The University of Alabama - Where Legends Are Made
Why This Works
It’s easy to picture yourself at the University of Alabama after seeing these clips of their academic, athletic, and student life.
What we love about this video is that it’s short and sweet; proving that sometimes it only takes thirty seconds to captivate an audience.
When it comes to recruitment effectiveness, this video has the potential to draw applicants to Alabama’s website. Once there, applicants can find a series of videos featuring some of the school’s very own legends like Rece David (ESPN anchor) and Janet Gurwitch (Laura Mercier Cosmetics founder).
The website also gives a peek into the Where Legends Are Made campaign, which was initially launched on a national level as a commercial during a college football game.
Other tactics such as digital and print ads, merchandise, and social media were used to increase engagement. This approach effectively speaks to a wide audience of students, parents, alumni, and donors who collect information through their own preferred channels.
Thomas Jefferson University - Redefining Humanly Possible
Why This Works
“If the world isn’t stuck in the past, why is higher education?”
Clearly, something isn’t adding up and Jefferson is set on changing that. They’re challenging the status quo and encouraging different ways of thinking by redefining what’s humanly possible.
To get that message across, Jefferson uses a powerful script that resembles a motivational speech. They also employ futuristic visuals which reflect the innovative tone underlying the script.
In terms of recruitment, we see this being an effective approach because it speaks to a tech-savvy generation who are eager to make their mark.
The Redefining Humanly Possible campaign was able to reach a large audience by taking a multi-channel approach. It was featured on regional TV ads, transit ads, outdoor billboards, and more plus it was spread using digital marketing and social media.
University of Birmingham - Welcome to the University of Birmingham
Why This Works
This video opens with a blank VHS screen. To some, this may seem like a small detail but it’s actually quite brilliant!
Currently, there’s a nostalgic trend among millennials who are trying to recapture the past — and are doing so through VHS video apps.
With trendiness in mind, you can see how the University of Birmingham (intentionally or not) is appealing to a very large group of applicants.
Another great aspect of this video is that it’s able to convey so much information with zero spoken words.
The team at Birmingham successfully manages to convey facts about the city as well as the school’s programs, facilities, awards, and inventions – without any voiceover. Instead, they use visuals paired with short (and often witty), written statements.
This approach is unique compared what we usually see and for that, we say: well done!
University of Leicester - Launch Yourself
Why This Works
Coming in at thirty seconds, this quick clip is a captivating highlight reel of some of Leicester’s academic programs.
“The space-themed brand campaign celebrates the University’s campus-based space research centre and their reputation in space technology, showing potential students Leicester really is the place to launch yourself into your future,” according to a statement on the university’s website.
The Launch Yourself campaign appeared on television and social media, as well as in theatres and the national press.
With such a beautifully produced video, we almost couldn’t believe this was the university’s first major brand and recruitment campaign!
Click here for a scene-by-scene breakdown of the video and how each scene relates to life at Leicester.
Find out who won the 2018 Kira Award here!
Sound effect & music attribution:
“Waves” by Makaih Beats, used under CC / Remixed from original
"Applause" by Sandermotions, used under CC / Remixed from original
"Small Crowd Cheering & Clapping" by Ndheger, used under CC / Remixed from original