Cannes Lions


DDB CHICAGO, Chicago / AD COUNCIL / 2012






35m Americans don’t have a GED Diploma. So we had to find a way to motivate this massive and diverse target market. We had to talk to people on more of a one-to-one basis. Which led us to the idea of pep talks. If talking with 1 voice wasn’t going to work, why not talk with many voices? Create a group of motivational talkers, from a range of social and ethnic backgrounds to talk to the target on their level. We wanted this campaign to have impact and get noticed, so rather than use people like motivational speakers, we used famous Hollywood faces that the target could identify with.

By using recognisable faces, we were starting at an advantageous point as our audience were prepared to listen to the message and engage with it. It felt like a conversation with a friend, rather than a corporate instruction.


Outdoor posters, TV and radio commercials, social media, digital, earned media and, most importantly, word of mouth, all led potential GED students to a bespoke website where they would find the GED Pep Talk Center. Here they could select a level of pep talk, ranging from level 1 ‘Gentle’, for people who just needed a little encouragement, all the way up to level 13 ‘Extreme’, for people who needed a lot of persuading. This gave them the motivation they needed to sign up for free GED classes in their area.People could also access the Pep talk Center via a hotline, where they could choose a level by pressing the numbers on their phones. We also set up a specialized texting service, where people could text the name of a celebrity pep talker to a number and they would then call you back with a pep talk.


We obtained a total of more than $40m in donated media since the launch of our campaign. We drove more than a 2m (2,430,346) unique visitors to our website since launch.And we generated more than 7,359,283 page views. In addition to website visits, 38,371 potential students called our hotline for more information about getting their GED Diploma. That’s 29% higher than the initial estimate of 18,000 calls per year (Source: ProLiteracy National Literacy, Directory Referral Partnership.) The texting service was used 5,000 times in the first week of launch.A total of 97 news stations highlighted our campaign within the first week of launch. With a 34% sign up rate, it’s evident that our campaign was persuasive in its ability to drive potential students to the website and also take the next step to find an education centre in their area.

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