Not your usual #highered Admissions Video: Beer, Blood and Applications?

March 15th, 2012 Karine Joly 4 Comments

In the latest issue of LINK published on Tuesday a video caught my eyes. Not the new (and quite unconventional) admissions video by the University of Rochester – although I totally love it and share the love on Twitter last week.

WOW - Just WOW. Stop what you're doing and watch this: http://t.co/UiZmSevG - the latest admissions video from @
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No, what caught my attention in Dave Tyler’s Link Boxers column this month was another admissions video, an admissions from another world featuring beer, blood, horror and… a campus tour.

Haven’t heard of it yet? Stop a minute and watch it now – with more than 2 million views on YouTube, you can say, it has become an overnight classic.

Wow.
Really?
How did they do that?
Were they out their mind – and are they now out of their job?

Yep, that’s what I thought too the first time I watched it. I had to ask why Central Institute of Technology would boldly (gorely?) go where no other institution has gone before. And, I did.

Caroline Lindsay, Online Strategist for Marketing and Communications at Central Institute of Technology was kind enough to answer my questions to help us all understand the context behind this extreme admissions video.

1) How did you come up with the concept for this video? Who are these 2 guys starring in the video?

To explain the concept, you probably need a little background information. Henry and Aaron, the actors and creators of the video are two very talented Central graduates. Central agreed to sponsor them in another activity, and a part of the sponsorship package was that Henry and Aaron would make an ad for Central to distribute online.

2) It’s a very bold statement for an admissions video and it has paid off in terms of YouTube views. What were your institutional/admissions goals for this video?

It IS a bold statement! Again, some background helps here. Perth, Western Australia has a very competitive higher ed marketplace and it is very difficult to cut through. Especially when you are a technical college trying to compete with the bigger budgets of the universities and an audience who is just hearing a lot of the same messages. However, we knew that the other work that Henry and Aaron had created had really resonated with our target audience.

We did have to take a risk, by giving them a lot of freedom in the brief otherwise it wouldn’t have worked. It was vital that the video came across as genuine and honest, was well thought out and that the production values were high. It needed to be different than everything else out there. It also helped having a very supportive Managing Director and Head of Marketing who were willing to take on that level of risk.

Another factor in going with something that we hoped would work virally is that we needed to get across a recent branding change that we had made. We changed names from Central TAFE to Central Institute of Technology, but it has been slow to get our community to be aware and adopt the change in brand. So, one goal was to produce something that would reach our target market and get them talking about our new name in a postive way. In terms of admissions, we wanted to create a buzz and begin a conversation more than set a direct increase in applications.

3) Can you tell us a bit more on what was involved to create it?

The video was shot in one day and then edited over four weeks.
Central has a fantastic film and television department so we were able to use internal resources and facilities and the crew was made up of current and former students.

4) What kind of results did you get so far?

I think the results will be longer term and will be realised further when applications open in May for our second semester intake. However already we have seen a significant increase in website traffic, extensive press in Australian and overseas and increase in course enquiries. I think as well as getting the traffic on Youtube we have generated that positive discussion around our brand that we wanted to occur. We had 10,000 uniques to the site on the day after it hit virally. 500, 000 visitors in the first few weeks from the US, a market that is traditionally hard to reach from here in Perth.

Central Institute of Technology

5) Did you get any negative feedback? If you did, how did you handle it?

We had drafted responses ready to respond to negative feedback. Some of our students are under 18, so we needed to be prepared for potentially concerned parental responses, and as a government agency we also needed to be prepared. We ensured that whenever we posted the video we included a warning. In preparation we compared the video to music videos and gaming that our target audience was already engaging with, and sure, it was out there in terms of higher ed advertising, but it wasn’t out there at all in terms of what this audience was otherwise watching and doing. And in the end, we had no problems at all. 24000 likes on Youtube and only 300 dislikes tells the story really. It wasn’t to everyones taste, but all up we only had one complaint made directly to us. That I think is incredible. I think that comes down to the cleverness of the script and how genuine Henry and Aaron are.

So, my dear readers, what do you think? While this kind of videos would certainly get you fired in the US, do you think it’s time to be boldER in admissions videos?

4 Responses

  1. Wait, I’m confused. It didn’t use the words “world class interdisciplinary research environment” anywhere. Can’t be from higher ed.

  2. Lauren Mazza says:

    What a post, Karine!

    First, let me give you a bit of background. I have been a tour guide at my school (Kent State University) for four years now and am going to graduate in May with my master’s in public relations. Because of these two things, I am totally on your side here. I think these two videos are innovative, fun and FANTASTIC.

    As a tour guide, I believe about 80% of the high schoolers I encountered would respond to this video. Too often higher ed advertising features some bland facts that most kids really don’t care about. I can tell you that the students are not asking me about research professor’s do and the square footage of the campus…they ask me about social events, what it’s like to be a college kid, and the campus environment. It’s the parents who care about all the other stuff. I realize that since the parents are often the ones funding the bills, it is crucial to market to them, but we don’t want to lose sight of why prospective students would want to go to the school in the first place.

    I think most high school student’s respond well to humor, which this video provides. It certainly got me interested in the school. Basically, I feel that with all of the technology around here and the amount of advertisements people are inundated with, it’s harder than ever to stand out. These commercials help two schools to do JUST that. I think it’s brilliant and I think more schools are going to have to start doing things like that to stand out in the future.

    Lauren Mazza
    @laurenmazza
    laurenmazza.wordpress.com

  3. Karine Joly says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience (and opinion) as a tour guide, Lauren. Very interesting.

  4. [...] post by Karin Joly entitled Not your usual #highered Admissions Video: Beer, Blood and Applications? published on the CollegeWebEditor.com blog suggested an alternative way of making your institution [...]

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