Cannes Lions

The Real Truth About Financial Aid

HUGE, Washington D.C. / FEDERAL STUDENT AID / 2017

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Case Film






We needed to counter students’ misconceptions about financial aid. But countering misconceptions can backfire, causing people to actually reinforce their own incorrect beliefs. So we decided to partner with an influencer college students already trust to prove myths wrong: star Adam Conover.

He already has millions of college-age fans who watch him BECAUSE he counters their misconceptions about everyday topics. To them, he’s a trusted source—someone who could help overcome the tendency to hold on to incorrect beliefs.

We worked with Adam to write and produce a video in the same style as his typical myth-busting videos. We called it “The Real Truth About Financial Aid,” which was a title style similar to Conover’s usual videos. We also created social media content and a landing page that countered students’ financial aid misconceptions. And we drove students to the online financial aid application so they could fill it out.


We teased the release of the video on social media starting two weeks before launch date. The video went live on 1 October 2016, which is the same day that the official financial aid application went live on Federal Student Aid’s website.

The video was immediately available for viewing across the U.S. on:


• CollegeHumor’s YouTube page

• Federal Student Aid’s YouTube page

• The Federal Student Aid campaign landing page

The video was also featured prominently on CollegeHumor’s YouTube page during the first month of the campaign, ensuring that it would be seen by more people in our target audience.


• 2.1MM video views

• 21% increase in financial aid applications submitted by graduating high school seniors in the first month after applications became available compared to the same period the year before

• 31% increase in click-throughs to Federal Student Aid websites

• 51% increase in impressions and video views compared to the previous financial aid campaign cycle

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