The Open University is bigging up its flexible, high-quality, distance learning credentials with a new marketing strategy showcasing the real stories of its students in an effort to capitalise on the increased need for online learning options brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Stories of Ambition campaign, created by Havas CX Helia, aims to highlight the 50-year heritage the UK’s largest academic institution in pioneering innovative distance learning and how it has inspired and enabled millions of students to realise their ambitions through its courses.
As other academic institutions quickly shifted to online learning, it also seeks to assuage concerns about the quality of such offerings – reassuring potential students that the OU has honed its own approach, methods and structures over many years.
Through a series of animated stories from real students whose ambitions have been realised through the OU, the first spot tells the story of student Joe, who is fascinated by human behaviour and wants to be a clinical psychologist.
Brought to life through animation by Buff Motion, he explains, in his own words, how the OU’s inherent flexibility has allowed him to study for a BSc in Psychology while also working for the NHS as he does so. There will be three further student executions.
The campaign, which runs online, on video on demand and paid social, as well as via the OU’s own channels, replaces the OU’s previous ‘Open Diaries’ series, which had been running since 2018, and forms part of its overarching brand campaign ‘Free Your Ambition’.
It is designed to reflect the OU’s founding mission to enable people’s ambitions by making learning accessible to anyone, anywhere.
OU senior marketing manager Rachel Cully said: “Stories of Ambition is about finding new ways to leverage our greatest advocates – our students and their amazing stories – to address any questions and uncertainties prospective students might have about both the OU and distance learning in general.
“This is particularly important in light of the pandemic, with more and more people considering online learning and seeking information on how it actually works. We hope hearing other students’ experiences can provide crucial context, understanding and relatability for all those people who want to realise their ambitions through education in a way which works for them.”
Havas CX Helia executive creative director Stuart Peddie added: “The proof, as always, is in the pudding – and the fact is the OU’s biggest cheerleaders are all the students whose ambitions have been realised through the flexible, distance learning approach it began pioneering more than 50 years ago.
“We wanted to modernise these testimonials, capturing them in a fresh, organic style that speaks to the next generation, while retaining their inherent and inspiring authenticity.”
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