Northwood University approached us with a grand vision. Imagine the wooded campus completely immersed in Christmas decorations—trees covered in lights and ornaments, festive banners hanging from light posts, and free horse-drawn carriage rides through the snowy campus streets.
To make it happen, they needed help from alumni and parents of current students who would donate money for the decorations. When the students headed home for winter break, the decorations would be mailed back to the donors to hang on their own Christmas trees.
A White Christmas in October
Since it was a first time event—and you can’t shoot a snowy Christmas scene with leaves still on the trees—we used animation to tell the story.
Inspired by old-fashioned Christmas storybooks, we developed art that perfectly matched iconic campus landmarks. Because we were reaching out to Northwood alumni and the parents of current students, it was important that it look exactly like the actual campus. Anything else would been transparently dishonest.
The art direction reflected the fun spirit of the campaign, but the video would also include a touch of real footage.
Enter the Professor
A social media video must immediately grab the audience’s attention. It’s just too easy to scroll to the next dog video or cupcake recipe if the hook isn’t obvious.
Since Northwood alumni comprised our core audience, we opened the video with Professor Jeff Phillips, a well-known Northwood professor who has taught there for more than 20 years.
Hardly anyone has graduated from Northwood in the last two decades without taking a class (or six) with Professor Phillips and his signature white pants. We bet that a recognizable face would inspire alumni to pay closer attention to the video. And we were right.
Released on Giving Tuesday, the video was widely shared among Northwood students and alumni. It was accompanied by a custom landing page that made it easy for donors to join the campaign.
When the year ended, the results were clear. The video was the centerpiece of Northwood University’s most successful end-of-year appeal ever.