Higher Ed Recruitment Video Best of 2015

The Academy Awards have been honoring the best in cinematic achievement since 1929, but despite our best efforts, they continue to ignore our cries to include the efforts of higher ed’s marketing and recruiting teams for best college marketing videos.

So while we’re waiting for them to change their minds, we’re going to do the next best thing.

As Hollywood rolls out the red carpet, we’re celebrating some Oscar-worthy recruiting initiatives from around the world in the first annual Kira Awards. We evaluated college marketing videos from schools around the world for:

  • Recruitment Effectiveness
  • Emotional Appeal
  • Entertainment Value

Without further ado, here are the four nominees for recruitment video of the year:

Open University - Life-changing Learning

Highlighting the shared community of a distance studies program isn’t an easy task, but it’s one that Open University mastered in their video.

Why this works

It’s authentic, it’s human, and it’s inspirational. Although seeing the student life cycle is a fairly traditional approach to recruitment, Open manages to introduce audiences to realistic, relatable characters in just sixty seconds.

The school effectively identified their target audience (mature, career-minded, busy professionals who are looking to expand their skillsets) and shot a video which speaks directly to their audience’s fears and desires. Authentic, high-quality video matched with suiting audio gel to make a highly moving piece for prospective students.

The characters are believable: they strive, they struggle, and they celebrate. They’re everyday people living everyday lives, and Open is the change that makes their lives better.

Reading through the YouTube comments, you see dozens of Open grads testifying that the school had a positive impact on their life, adding the social proof that is especially necessary for online programs.

BI Norwegian - Flying Start

BI Norwegian’s Flying Start campaign takes a totally unique approach to the typical college recruitment campaign, transforming the admissions process into a fierce competition.

Why this works

Applying to business school is competitive, a fact that BI Norwegian capitalizes on and plays with by contesting their application process.  With calls-to-action like “join the competition,” BI has cleverly found a way secure thousands of MBA email leads, merging the program’s application into its contest.

“All you have to do is apply” to win this prize-pack of fame, friendship and fun for your new life in Oslo. The campaign’s elaborate video tours the city and the school as the narrator explains the elaborate prize and contest rules, shaping a true campus community vibe in the mind of the viewer while making the applicant feel special and important.

BI Norwegian makes it clear: We know you're taking a risk moving to Oslo, but you won't be alone when you get here.

Western Sydney - Unlimited

Wow. We have goosebumps. And with over two million YouTube views, we’re not alone. Western Sydney crafts a truly compelling story based on the life of an inspiring alumni, from his childhood through to his post-grad career in law.

Why this works

Beautiful cinematography, film editing, and musical score help make Western Sydney’s three-video Unlimited series a homerun. But it’s the story of alumnus Deng Adut, and how his degree has helped him bring change to the world that makes this campaign so powerful.

Storytelling is certainly not a new trend in marketing, but it’s one that schools have not been leveraging until recently. Moving past vague value statements and talking heads of heavily-coached students and faculty members, Western Sydney brings viewers inside the life of this particularly incredible alumnus, inspiring them of the possibilities that come from a Western Sydney degree and the graduates who have one.

Université de Moncton - Français et fiers

Spicy? Sexy? We’re not sure the appropriate adjective, but this Université de Moncton ad definitely has a lot of it. So much so that the media even covered the campaign.

Why this works

This campaign worked because it generated a LOT of awareness for the otherwise unknown school in Moncton.

With 200,000+ YouTube views on their school channel, another 100,000 from The Young Turks, and media coverage in the National Post, Gawker, Huffington Post, and CBC, just to name a few, the risque ad certainly generated buzz. As a small French-speaking school in New Brunswick, competing with English-speaking schools in the Maritimes and Québec, a little bit of controversy was exactly what they needed.

As marketers, we like the ad. It highlights the university in a totally unique way and effectively targets undergraduate applicants, feeding into their wildest dreams about college life.

At the same time, we know how influential friends and family are on undergrad college selection, making us a bit leery that this campaign might not fare as well with parents.

However, Université de Moncton reports that social media and comment sentiment from parents, especially alumni, was remarkably high.

Alongside a new website and some refreshed recruitment materials, they saw a 22% increase in Canadian applicants the year following this campaign.

As Denis Boucher, U de M's Director of Recruitment said, "Everybody has a great program, everybody has scholarships, if you keep saying that you're not sticking out. And we wanted to stick out."

Special Mention: Kitten Kollege

Yes, this is an advertisement for cat food, but we can’t help but commend Whiskas playful pull at your heartstrings with these college-bound kitties.

Like the best of the best above, campaigns that work are highlighting the real students and alumni (in this case, they are cats), in a compelling way.

Whiskas has done a great job of perfecting even the smallest details in this campaign (skip to 0:26) to see the purrr-fect classic literature, cat-ified.

And the Award goes to?

After thousands of votes in February 2015, we determined a winner for Best Higher Education Recruitment Video of the Year. Click here to read the announcement.