One-shot Ads for a Shot at Debt-free College
Together with 27 states, we helped launch a national awareness campaign for 529 College Savings Plans—state-backed programs that help families from all walks of life save for higher education.
Total student debt in the U.S. has climbed to more than $1.5 trillion. Yet most of the national conversation surrounds debt forgiveness and the rising costs of education, rather than preventing debt in the first place. Our goal was to help tackle this crisis for future generations.
To help drive awareness across the country, we collaborated with Fred Rogers Productions – creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and, more recently, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Dedicated to making the world a better place for future generations, it was the perfect partner for the campaign.
As a Fred Rogers Productions underwriter, we were given :15 nation-wide recognition spots before and after every episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. For these :15 spots, we created a series of true oners – each created with a single camera and shot in one single, fluid motion from start to finish.
Through the magic of two concentric turntables that rotated in opposite directions, we were able to seamlessly navigate between the dream-like moments that defined four children’s lives, ultimately leading them to become the individuals they are today. The end result? 15-second mini-movies that bucked the typical “proud supporter of …” tropes in favor of cinematic visuals that connected with children just as much as their parents.
In addition to the TV spots, we created a new microsite, 529forCollege.com, which communicated our mission and served as a content hub with custom articles, stories and testimonials. It also houses custom content created by Fred Rogers Productions.
Hundreds of hours were also put into earned PR and social. We combined national efforts with local and regional efforts from each contributing partner through the use of a toolkit we put together, which contained videos, photography, sample layouts and talking points.
We launched the campaign on March 4, 2019, with national and local PR alongside the TV spots, microsite and social media. In the first week alone, we generated press valuing the equivalent of 3% of our total 18-month ad buy, and we increased social media engagements by 580% over the previous week.
Over the course of the entire campaign – which ended on September 18, 2020 – we garnered 191.4M impressions through our partnership with Fred Rogers Productions. Our social media efforts amassed more than 976,000 impressions, and we saw significant increases in followers and engagement compared to pre-campaign. Our microsite has had more than 40,000 unique visitors, and we received hundreds of PR mentions, including high-profile mentions from publications such as New York Times, Forbes and CNBC, which reached an estimated ad value of more than $210,000.
Most importantly, after our 18-month campaign, we saw an increase in awareness and use of 529s. Based on our primary research:
- Awareness of 529 plans increased by 40%, from 32% to 45% (goal was 42%)
- Connection of 529 plans to education increased by 54%, from 22% to 34% (goal was 32%)
- Use of a 529 plan to save increased by 33%, from 12% to 16% (goal was 15%)
- The total amount saved in 529s increased at a record amount at 19% in 2019