Ah, America! Land of the free… home of the brave… where everybody knows your name… no secret that our transatlantic cousins have some of the best universities in the world, but did you know they have some of the best student recruitment videos too?

You didn’t?

Well, allow us to correct that egregious oversight post-haste, with a look at a few of the finest recent examples…

1. Miami University

Let’s start with the most recent, made for Miami University and entitled Love & Honor.

Now, though it’s well-made, the full 7-minute L & H film is maybe a little overblown; we actually think the shorter trailer packs much more of a punch.

Launched in February, it’s chalked up more than 30,000 views on YouTube.

Actually rather traditional in its approach to the tenets of the student recruitment film, at the core of the Love & Honor trailer is a selection of interview sound-bites and cutaways of scenes captured around the University.

So what’s the secret of its success?

That the student voice is given privilege over that of the academics, and that the sound-bites delivered by those students offer personal perspectives on their various experiences at Miami, rather than the anticipated unfurling of bland clichés.

That the shots which make up the montage aren’t all the usual suspects, instead giving a more offbeat view of the University, while still ensuring it all looks suitably fun and appealing.

That it’s all snappily cut and set to a decent soundtrack.

Explanation enough for you?

All righty then.

2. The University of Michigan

In a prior post, we talked about how leading commercial firms tend to focus on creating online content that is ‘cool, contemporary and relevant’, with the quality and shareability of this content (rather than a surplus of specifics) positively influencing how viewers see that brand overall.

Just such a forward-thinking approach has been adopted by the University of Michigan for one of its more recent videos. Going by the name of The Letter M, it’s a snappy, striking spot of brand-building, garlanded with a soaring, stratospheric conclusion, and has scored more than 97,000 YouTube views in eight months.

3. Stanford University

Interestingly, The Letter M was made by Filmic Productions, a company run by Michigan students that’s already won awards for its previous work. And the final video we’re looking at, #leaveyourlegacy, was also made by students of the sponsor institution, in this instance that being Stanford University.

Created by three Stanford alumni going by the collective moniker Hooded Trees, the video is unashamedly big, bold and powerful, with a central message of aspiration, effort and achievement that all watching will be able to relate to – especially those of/around college age.

Featuring M83’s ubiquitous Outro on the soundtrack, #leaveyourlegacy has as much the feel of a trailer for an independent feature as it does a university video, as once again we see the emotional angle being privileged over the informational.

#leaveyourlegacy from Hooded Trees on Vimeo.

As the title indicates, the video comes complete with its own attendant Twitter hash tag, as The Letter M also did (#GoBlueAndBeyond). It’s another indication of the care taken by the creators of these videos as they consider how their work will be distributed online and how easy it needs to be for viewers to respond to it.

#leaveyourlegacy has played very well with audiences (111,000 views on Vimeo in a year), and this success has resulted in Hooded Trees being officially commissioned by Stanford to create further content to promote the University.

Take a look at our own student recruitment work here.

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