Columbia College partnered with DEG to craft a campaign that would help it stand out among other higher education institutions.

Higher education is expensive. And the stress of paying for it has been felt for years by students who accumulate debt on an increasing scale—oftentimes before they even get their first credit card.

So, when a college presents a tuition option that doesn’t rack up fees and additional costs, it’s extremely important to communicate its benefits to those considering college degrees, as well as the administrators who recruit and speak to students daily.

The Challenge

Columbia College needed to introduce Truition, its new, simplified payment program, to prospective students during the consideration phase of the school year. Knowing prospective college students are bombarded with messaging in the fall, Columbia College partnered with DEG, Linked by Isobar to craft a campaign that would help it stand out among other higher education institutions.

The Opportunity

With the right messaging, Columbia College could better communicate its affordable tuition to those considering higher education and grow its student base within the private college space.

The Insight

Consumers considering continuing their education are faced with the daunting reality of paying exorbitant college fees. When choosing a school, students seek a place that understands their motivations and communicates with refreshing honesty.

Columbia College’s “Graduation” Truition video has been viewed more than 3.1 million times on YouTube. Here’s how it came to life.

The Strategy

Columbia College knew it wanted to introduce Truition with a video campaign, so DEG conducted a discovery to best understand the payment structure and how prospective students interact with the college before choosing to attend. The DEG content team chose to use comedy to break traditional higher education communication standards and connect with the target audience through entertainment centered around the absurd cost of attending other universities.

The Solution

DEG presented six concepts to Columbia College, which chose the “Nickel and Dime” idea of using money-insertion props to showcase how notoriously ridiculous hidden fees are within higher education. Each prop paused a night-class lecture, prevented students from completing online coursework, or put a stop to the graduation ceremony until students fed the meter.

The agency developed 30- and 15-second commercials—from storyboarding and casting to directing, shooting, and post-production editing—as well as a full content library of videos, images, GIFs, and also a guidebook for sharing the content on all of Columbia College’s digital channels. In addition, the agency created print ads and motion graphic-explainer videos for further educating prospective students on the benefits of Truition.

The Outcome

Columbia College’s “Graduation” Truition video has been viewed more than 3.1 million times on YouTube and the institution asked DEG to create a second Truition campaign for 2019. This new campaign built off the same comedic message with the concept of “No More Games,” and its 60-second spot has been viewed more than 1.5 million times on YouTube after launching in August. Again, the agency produced a full content library with new commercials, social media videos, images, and GIFs for driving more awareness of the Truition program.

Comedy turned out to be the right formula for Columbia College to show it isn’t joking about providing tuition transparency.

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