Will This Emotional Ad Convince Employers to Pay Off Their Workers’ Student Loans?

GS&P delivers message for Gradifi

Hey, corporate overlords, want to know the best reason you should help your employees pay back their student loans?

Gradifi, which provides tools for companies that wish to initiate such programs, spells it out in a short film from Goodby Silverstein & Partners. It tells the story of Sophie, a recent addition to the working world who’s primed to make a big impact, though she could use a little assistance in reducing her crushing debt:


“Our task was to open bosses’ eyes to the fact that this oppressively big student-debt number all over the news is actually hidden in the people all around them,” Jonathan Pelleg, a copywriter at GS&P, tells AdFreak. “Bosses talk to these people every day. This isn’t a hypothetical plight afflicting people these bosses have never met. It’s a plight that’s surrounding them.”

Directed by BR•F’s Olof Lindh, the three-minute film benefits from an emotive, appealing performance by Canadian actress Nadia Cejic. Style-wise, it’s a soft sell, but not syrupy. Quietly intense might be the best description. It’s consistently engaging, though some may prefer the punchy panache of the shorter version below:


According to Gradifi, employee loan-payment assistance is the kind of benefit that boosts recruitment, retention and morale. (Plus, you’ll be able to brag to all the other business owners about how enlightened and progressive you are!)

Notably, GS&P avoids overt appeals to management self-interest. Instead, the agency tells a very personal story, keeping the advantages to employers in the background, gambling that a plea from the heart could have breakthrough potential.

“We couldn’t just make this another ‘good business decision,’ like every commercial you see in the morning on MSNBC. That’s too easy to ignore,” Pelleg says. “Is it fiscally sound for employers to tap Gradifi? Of course it is. You have a perk to attract and retain the young talent who are the future of your industry. But focusing on the numbers turns people into numbers, and that’s wrong. They’re people, and we want you to help people.”

Client: Gradifi
Title of Creative Work: “Why Did She?” and “Sophie”
Ad Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Partner: Rich Silverstein
Creative Director: Will Elliott
Creative Director: Patrick Knowlton
Art Director: Maggie Bradshaw
Copywriter: Jonathan Pelleg

Director of Broadcast Production: Tod Puckett
Executive Producer: Benton Roman

Account Services
Account Director: Theo Abel
Account Manager: Chelsea Bruzzone
Account Manager: Leah Tichansky

Brand and Communication Strategy
Group Brand Strategy Director: Ralph Paone
Brand Strategist: Nora Allibhai

Business Affairs
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Heidi Killeen

Production Company
Company name: BR•F
Director: Olof Lindh
Director of Photography: Larkin Seiple
Production Designer: Kate Ferry
Producer: Leanne Amos
Executive Producer at BR•F: Jason Botkin
Executive Producer at Spy: Natalia Winardi

Editorial Company
Company name: WORK Editorial
Editor: Ben Jordan
Assistant Editor: Josh Sasson
Producer: Brandee Probasco
Executive Producer: Marlo Baird

Company name: CO3
Colorist: Sofie Borup
Color Producer: Katie Andrews & Alexandra Lubrano
Executive Producer, Color: Ashley McKim

Company name: Method
Lead Flame Artist: Aaron Neitz
Executive Producer: Cara Lehr
Producer: Karena Ajamian & Thuy Ta

Company name: Woodwork Music
Composer: Phil Kay
Producer: Andy Oskwarek

Sound Design
Company name: Q Department

Company name: One Union
Mixer: Eben Carr & Joaby Deal
Executive Producer: Lauren Mask

End Treatment Graphics
Company name: E-Level

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