Ads for Colleges Are Usually Terrible, but McCann Melbourne Just Made a Fascinating One

Great minds collide at the University of Melbourne

Creative ads for universities are very rare. Most rate about a D+ (particularly this 2010 campaign for Drake University, whose actual theme, hilariously enough, was "D+"). But now and again, you see a good one. And the latest comes once again from Australia, which seems to specialize in college ads that don't suck.

McCann Melbourne made the spot below for the University of Melbourne, and you know right away that it's unusual—it opens at night, which is unheard of in college ads. A woman sit on a campus bench, reading, when suddenly she rises and begins sprinting toward a building. From there, it gets quite surreal.

The Pilobolus-like choreography is impressive (particularly as the ad features the university's own students, teachers, academics and executives). It's a bit like a high-minded version of PlayStation's famous "Mountain" spot, except it's conceptually the opposite—the piles of people here have risen through learning, and laying off the video games.

The metaphor of great minds colliding is a bit obtuse, and not paid off in the visuals, where it's bodies colliding and clambering over each other. But the idea of collision is a useful one for higher education.

"This campaign acknowledges that contributions that impact us all, aren't for the most part created by individuals working alone in dark spaces, but through the bright minds and their imaginations colliding and collaborating. A little bit like advertising agencies," says Pat Baron, executive creative director McCann Melbourne.

The campaign includes social and digital media, cinema, TV, print, outdoor and a content partnership with the Guardian. This is McCann's first major work for the university since winning the business in a pitch earlier this year.


Client: The University Of Melbourne

Executive Director, Marketing and Communications: Lara McKay

Agency: McCann Melbourne

Executive Creative Director: Patrick Baron

Creative Director: Andy Jones

Creative Director: Alex Wadelton

Art Director: Corey Thorn

Copywriter: Chesney Payet

Head of Broadcast: Victoria Conners

Production Assistant: Afrim Memed

Editor: Patrick Jennings

Managing Director: Adrian Mills

Head of Strategy & Media: David Phillips

Senior Channel Strategist: Ross Dougall

Executive Director: Serrin Dewar

Account Director: Jessica Jolley

Account Director: Sally Bradley

Print Producer: Anthea Waters

Retoucher: Ross Goddard

Senior Finished Artist: Daniel Hickey

Digital Director: Tony Prysten

Senior Digital Producer: Joe Guario

Digital Producer: Rebecca Earwaker

Social Lead: Chris Baker

Production Company: Exit Films

Director: Mark Daly

Producer: Martin Box

Managing Director/EP: Kim Wildenburg

DOP: Geoffrey Simpson

Postproduction: The Editors

Editor: Ryan Boucher

Producer: Nicoletta Rousianos

Visual FX: Fin Design

Colourist: Ben Eagleton

Producer: Amelia Babos

Sound Design: Klang

Sound Designer / Composer: Brendan Woithe

Producer: Paul Healy

Additional Sound Mix: Soundlounge

Richard Buxton

Sam Hopgood

Sarah Ewing Agency: Still Photography/Print

Photographer: Chris Von Menge

Producer: James Mauger

Retoucher: Jamie Phillips