Open University launches six-month marketing partnership with Channel 4

Open University has launched an initiative with Channel 4 it insists is "much more than an advertising campaign", starting with three 30-second spots airing tomorrow during the show The Last Leg.

Created by production company The Outfit, the three ad spots are filmed using Channel 4's "fixed rig" style and also uses Channel 4's "falling blocks" in Open University colours. The ad spots each features an OU student sharing their inspiring stories. 

The launch spots are 30-seconds long and will be repurposed as three, 60-second spots and additional cut-downs for online, creating in total nine bits of creative for OU to use. 

"While the spots will appear during station ad time and ad slots, they appear as integrated editorial," Ella Hall, the university's head of acquisition and brand, said. "To the consumer, it will feel like a genuine co-partnership piece between both Channel 4 and OU."

It was important for OU to have the spots have the flavour of a documentary as the stories shared are real. "Some have come from backgrounds where they never thought they’d achieve what they achieved."

The three students chosen represent a range of ages and backgrounds. Lindsey Williams, 27, from Milton Keynes, studied modern language studies at the OU and has since set up her own language tuition business as well as a language blog. 

Paul Mahoney, 47, from Merthyr Tydfil, left school at 16 but managed to complete a degree in maths and statistics from OU. He went on to head a security department. And Barry Ryan, 31, from Dublin completed a psychology degree which has helped him progress in his career as a social care worker. 

The content partnership deal was brokered by MediaCom and includes a joint-panel event that will take place in September. Channel 4 on-screen talent, Amanda Lamb, Jason Fox and Matt Edmonson, will support the campaign on social media. 

Hall added: "Channel 4's audiences indexes well against segments we target, and the channel also reaches a big gap in the market we don't reach well - the younger, and less traditional TV viewer."

This initiative is part of the university's "Student first" marketing strategy which, since it was implemented six months ago, has resulted in a 13% uptake in emotional brand engagement and a 19% increase in people's likelihood to enquire.

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