How to Create an Award-Winning Enrollment Video : Drew School

The Drew School enrollment video won a Gold in the 2016 Brilliance Awards. InspirED interviewed Rod Lemaire, partner and creative director at Mission Minded, Drew's agency, to learn how it was done.

Anyone can create a video today. Open up your phone, hit record, and you’re off to the races. But creating a results-driven, compelling, brand-centric video to boost independent school enrollment takes spot-on strategy, creativity, and high production values.

The enrollment video that Mission Minded developed for Drew School in San Francisco checks all these boxes and received a Gold in the InspirED Brilliance Awards in November as a result. We interviewed Rod Lemaire, partner and creative director at Mission Minded to discover the "secret sauce."

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Start With A Powerful Brand

As with all things marketing, it all starts with branding. Without distinctive, authentic brand messaging, your video is likely to look much like your competitors’. “This video is strong because the branding work that anchors it is strong, allowing the school to confidently and authentically tell a story about itself that it had never told before,” says Rod. “Having the students tell the story is a fresh approach and very on-brand for Drew whose entire identity, and what most differentiates it, is that it’s a school that believes in teenagers.”

Be very specific about the goals for the video. Trying to use a single video for both admissions and advancement would be a mistake.

Target Your Audience

If you’re starting with a powerful brand, the next step is strategy. “Be very specific about the goals for the video. Trying to use a single video for both admissions and advancement would be a mistake,” notes Rod.  While it may seem like one video would be most cost-effective, your target audience is different, motivated by different needs, and your call-to-action is different. A one-size-fits all video is not likely to deliver the targeted results you want and, may, instead, succeed at neither enrollment nor fundraising. The goal of this video was to bring the new Drew brand to life as a means of increasing both inquiries and enrollment.

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Planning Is Key, But Be Flexible

“Planning is key regardless of the shop size,” says Rod. To keep the shoot days cost-effective and strategic, Mission Minded’s producer developed a “minute-by-minute shoot days schedule that proved valuable in keeping things moving.” As we all know, the devil is in the details, and Mission Minded wanted to be sure that everyone on campus was enthusiastically ready to do their part to make the video a success. We also know that things don’t always go as planned, so “be flexible” is a key piece of their advice.

If a magic moment springs up, be ready to capture it, even if it wasn’t on your original shot list.
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“If a magic moment springs up, be ready to capture it, even if it wasn’t on your original shot list,” says Rod. “The point of a good video is to authentically represent your school, so make sure you manage that above all other goals.” An enrollment video is a very short movie that tells your school’s story and compels the viewer to take the next step by visiting the school in person. Creating an award-winning one that achieves its goals isn't easy, but Mission Minded and Drew got the job done — and then some.

Explosive Results

As a result of this video, Drew had its strongest admission season ever. Both inquiries and acceptances went up, necessitating the addition of seats to its incoming 9th grade class. Growth was “explosive.”  Rod says, “People are talking about Drew in a new way, which was precisely the goal — to position Drew as a top-notch, first-choice for right-fit families.” 

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The Drew Enrollment Video Creative Team

Mission Minded
Jennie Winton, Founding Partner and Lead Project Strategist
Rod Lemaire, Partner and Creative Director
Jonathan Hinman, Director and Producer
Stephanie Swain, Strategist/Project Manager

Drew School
Sam Cuddleback (retired), Head of School
Drew School Board of Trustees
Marcia Levin, Director of Admissions


Look for more By Example case studies on the 2016 Brilliance Awards winners. The 2017 Brilliance Awards will take place in October.