Kaplan University Threw Its Nursing and IT Grads Into Real-Life Crises, With a Twist

Trials by fire were contrived, but the reactions were real

Life is a series of tests, and sometimes, success depends on the quality of your education.

In a pair of videos below, Kaplan University shows how it can help you make the grade. Created by Arnold Worldwide, the campaign gauges the nursing and IT skills of unsuspecting Kaplan grads in real-world settings—but what they didn’t know was that the crises were staged.

Those professions were chosen based on their importance to Kaplan’s business model, “and because we thought they’d be interesting topics in a real world environment,” agency executive creative director David Register tells AdFreak. “While the two subjects are relatively different in nature—a medical emergency on the street and a tech crisis in a professional setting—both require response to what can certainly be considered a high-stress situation.”

Both scenarios entertainingly support the brand’s “Education Working” proposition, though they might play out too predictably for some viewers. (After all, would we be watching if the grads didn’t react so professionally?)

First, the nurses spring into action when a cyclist gets “injured” in traffic:

“The trickiest challenge in making the nursing film was the timing,” says Register. “We couldn’t actually show the accident itself, but had to instead create the illusion as if it really happened, so our graduates believed it. Since the graduates wouldn’t see the accident, we had to make them really hear it. So we created original sound design and used the sound of the wreck, timing it to play exactly before our graduates rounded the street corner. The sound of the wreck cued the action for our actors, the cyclist and driver.”

Next, recent Kaplan IT grads fly into reboot mode when a business network “inexplicably” goes down:

“The first task was to create a test that was a very real IT issue, while not being overly dramatic,” Register says. “Fortunately, we had a Kaplan University IT adviser to help us create the real-world problem for our grads to solve. Although the IT graduates all figured out the problem, it definitely wasn’t a cakewalk.”

Have you ever seen the panicked, volatile reactions that can erupt when the web goes down at work for real? Forget the IT crew! It might be good to have some Kaplan-trained nurses on hand in case things turn ugly.

Client: Kaplan Higher and Professional Education
Greg Marino – Chief Executive Officer, Kaplan Higher and Professional Education
Betty Vandenbosch – President, Kaplan University
Kathy Klinger – Chief Marketing Officer
Carrie Klotz – VP, Marketing
Cherlyn Warner – Marketing Director
Lisbeth Matheus – Senior Marketing Manager
Dr. Michelle Pedulla – Assistant Academic Graduate Program Chair
Alan Rynarzewski – Full Time Faculty, I.T.

Agency: Arnold Worldwide
David Register – EVP, Executive Creative Director
Dylan Bernd – SVP, Group Creative Director
Larry Fahey – Associate Creative Director
Kristine Andrews – Associate Creative Director
Julianna Rose – Art Director
Adia Betts – Copywriter
Bill Goodell – EVP, Director of Content Production
Spring Clinton – SVP, Associate Director
Emily LaPierre – Assistant Broadcast Producer
Andrew Butler – SVP, Brand Strategy Director
Barbara Reilly – EVP/Managing Director
Sarah Taylor – SVP, Marketing Director
Emily Kohlbeck – Senior Marketing Manager
Brian Quinn – Associate Marketing Manager

Production Partners:
Neil Tardio — Director
Mimi Webb Miller – Casting agent

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.