One December tradition that COVID couldn’t wipe away was the higher education institutional holiday video. You know, the videos where your favorite university wishes you season’s greetings in a sentimental/funny/ creative way?
During my time at Coastal Carolina University I had the pleasure of being involved with the annual holiday video whether it entailed me being in it, conceptualizing it, or just promoting it. It was always a fun project so I appreciated the opportunity to assist with Washington State University’s 2020 video.
Although a pandemic couldn’t halt university holiday videos, it did limit what could be done (say goodbye to large festive group shots!). But could new limitations perhaps open new avenues for creativity? At WSU, the answer was yes.
In a year that many across the world might consider “dark,” we wanted to show how WSU was able to offer some light. We settled on the theme of illumination and decided to express it in a way that our student audience could relate to.
This is a bold claim as I have not watched an overabundance of other university holiday videos yet, but I think we might be the only ones to produce ours based off a TikTok theme. That’s right, the WSU 2020 holiday video is definitely TikTok-inspired…we even shot it vertically. Drawing motivation from the infamous Pass the Brush Challenge and other TikTok videos that pass objects off screen to other participants, we decided to go with something similar.
The basis of our video showcases WSU students dropping a holiday light from one screen to the next. The students catch a non-illuminated light, react to it, and then—magic—it illuminates! The light is then dropped to the next participant.
The video kicks off with our mascot, Butch, illuminating the first light. It culminates with our First Lady catching the final light and passing it to the President. He then screws it into a string of lights and with a snap from the First Lady, the string and the state of Washington illuminates. Throughout the video, a voiceover from the President recognizes that it has been a difficult year but credits the WSU community for creating its own brightness.
Our social team had a seat at the brainstorming table when developing the illumination theme. Our primary responsibility was to recruit holiday video participants by promoting the opportunity on social media. In just an hour or so after posting the callout we were inundated with willing Cougs. We sent out Christmas lights to the people (mostly students) who expressed interest along with directions on how to film their portion of the video. Our volunteers didn’t disappoint. Within a week we had received more than enough material to hand over to our video team.
Our video professionals did an incredible job piecing the video together and adding the illumination effect to each Christmas light. A talented staff member who writes for our magazine penned the President’s voiceover that really hit home. One of our designers built the video into an email to send out to the WSU family. It was a true team effort by our University Marketing and Communications department and it paid off.
The video was a major success. It was received extremely well because of its uniqueness and natural flow. As of Monday night, it has been viewed more than 40,000 times on social media and I am yet to see one negative comment on any platform. During an extremely tough year, it feels good that this project has given people a reason to smile. Don’t Blink.