Paying Off Student Debt Is a Big Moment, So SoFi Surprised One Customer With an Epic Celebration

Candice had no idea what she was in for

Candice is in for quite a surprise party after paying off her student debt. SoFi
Headshot of Cara Anderson

Paying off student debt is an epic achievement, so financial company SoFi decided to give one newly debt-free customer a suitably epic celebration.

SoFi surprised Candice with a huge “debt graduation” ceremony complete with family, friends, hot air balloon, marching band, flash mob, and other surprises the company planned with production and entertainment studio GenPop. The digital ad will be shared across SoFi social channels.

SoFi Chief Marketing Officer Joanne Bradford, who makes an appearance in the video, shared some of the inspiration for the epic celebration:

“SoFi’s history is that we always believe in celebrating people becoming debt-free, because it is such an important milestone in their lives and their ambition,” she says. “We have done this on smaller scales in the past. When Shahin (Edalati, SoFi’s executive creative director) came on board, he said it was a shame the rest of the world couldn’t see what an amazing celebration this was, and what a meaningful moment this was for people. This was his vision to celebrate that milestone.”

Edalati says one of the first steps was choosing a lucky SoFi member to honor with this epic graduation. “We had to identify members who recently paid off their student loans and were interested in sharing their story with a broader audience. Ultimately, what made us choose Candice was first and foremost her story. It was a tale of perseverance, dedication, and ambition–qualities shared by all of our members,” Edalati says.

The production team was filled out by GenPop, a creative studio that specializes in sharable and viral content. Genpop was able to bring in choreographer Richy Jackson and Instagram-famous dog Jiffpom to add to the feel-good, fun nature of this stunt. “As far as capturing the moment of surprise, that took a lot of rehearsal and moving our operators into positions efficiently as we knew we’d would only have that one take where Candice is completely surprised,” says director Ben Conrad.

The digital-only spot was an epic acknowledgement of an often uncelebrated milestone. As Edalati says, “The central message was that graduating from student loan debt is just as important as graduating from school. Being debt-free is worth celebrating, and SoFi can help you get there sooner. So, we set out to bring that moment, that feeling of freedom when you make the last payment which is often anticlimactic, to life in the most epic and celebratory way.”


Chief Marketing Officer: Joanne Bradford
Vp of Brand Marketing: Meg Ciarallo
Executive Creative Director: Shahin Edalati
Associate Creative Director: Kacey Coburn
Senior Art Director: Charity Read
Director, Content Management And Social Marketing: Christine Zalocha
Brand Strategist: Jean-Michel Hoffman
Director Of Creative Production: Stephanie Heinsohn
Producer: Jonathan Derovan
Project Manager: Quincey Firth
Client: SoFi
Production: General Population
Executive Producer: Pierre Nobile
Director: Ben Conrad
Producer: Rick Brown
Director Of Photography: Matt Bass
Production Designer: Kris Starr Davila
Choreographer: Richard Jackson
Creative Consultants: Nate Morley & Bill Yukich
Editorial and Vfx : General Population
Lead Editor: Bill Yukich
Assistant Editors: Rene Vargas-madrigal, Sean Brown
Vfx Artist: Travis Button
Music : Mark Mallman
Sound Design: Keith Ruggiero
Color: Bill Yukich
Bts: Blaine Suque

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@cara_02 Cara Anderson is a contributor to Adweek.