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Sleepy College Town

The Challenge:
In preparation for AU Night at Nationals Park in August 2013, the university wanted to capitalize on this high-profile event through a three-minute video that would build pride in AU and in Washington, DC. In addition to promoting the university, UCM also sought to affirm its commitment to service. Our goal was to develop a video that we could modify for a variety of audiences, while retaining the same core message. Target audiences included current and prospective students; alumni; Nationals baseball fans; members of the Washington, DC, metropolitan area; and other university stakeholders.

The Solution:
In May 2013, a seven-member UCM team began developing a concept for a video that would air at Nationals Park’s AU Night. We quickly realized transmedia storytelling was the right direction. Among several options, we ultimately landed on the “Sleepy College Town” concept, together with a supporting website and collateral. UCM completed the video almost entirely in-house, supplemented by a small number of freelancers who are AU alums. We partnered with the School of Communication, Office of Alumni and Development, Office of Finance and Treasurer, Risk Management, and Facilities Management.

Rather than creating a single video for all audiences, UCM designed “Sleepy College Town” to be easily modified. Accordingly, we developed five alternate versions that would more successfully appeal to AU’s diverse needs. In addition, we created other media that worked hand-in-hand to make the video a success: an interactive website, print media, a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter, and T-shirts.

Results:
Responses to “Sleepy College Town” have been excellent. The video received greater positive feedback from the AU community than any other marketing effort in the past several years. We measured 90 percent awareness of the campaign among the internal community, according to a class survey. In addition:

  • The www.american.edu/wonk site had 22,000 unique visitors from 120 countries. Visitors spent an average of 2 minutes on the site engaging with WONK profiles, WONK challenges, and World of WONKs features.
  • The web/mobile version of “Sleepy College Town” has had more than 9,600 unique plays on YouTube, and the Facebook post was retweeted more than 8,000 times.
  • The video received booming applause whenever it was shown at live events, including Nationals Stadium (38,000 people), Anderson Cooper Wonk of the Year event (4,000 people), Alumni Dinner (400 people), and other alumni, student, and stakeholder events.
  • The video won three 2013 MARCOM Gold Awards in Branded Content Marketing, Recruitment, and Higher Education videos; two Platinum 2014 AVA Digital Awards in Branded Content Marketing (Service) and Educational Institution videos; and two CASE District II Awards in Advertising and Institutional videos.