We’ve decked the halls, trimmed the tree, and wrapped the presents here at Higher Education Marketing, and you know what that means? It’s time for our annual rundown of the best higher ed holiday videos!
This year has been one of the best yet for this festive higher ed tradition, with schools from all over stepping up to deliver some of the most creative, heartwarming and unusual holiday greetings we’ve seen in all our years making this list.
So, with further adieu, here are some of the best holiday greeting videos produced by schools in 2018.
1. UNCG Bryan School Make a Great Higher Ed Holiday Video About Making Holiday Videos
Coming up with new, original higher ed holiday video ideas can be stressful, and no one knows that better than UNCG Bryan School, whose efforts are routinely among the very best every December. In the past, they’ve lifted the lid on Santa’s history as a UNCG graduate, while last year they tackled a cybersecurity breach at the North Pole (which was featured in our 2017 holiday video rundown).
Their video this year has something of a meta narrative, taking us inside their higher ed marketing team as they scramble for new ideas, only to be saved by a festive interjection from their students.
2. USC Annenberg Takes Suggestions From Their Online Community
USC Annenberg put a similar spin on their holiday video this year, as Dean Willow Bay sought suggestions from her school’s talented community of media and communications students. Messages come in from a range of channels, including email, Snapchat, Instagram videos, and much more.
Each student’s ideas reflect their unique area of study or interests, and serve to highlight the diverse course options and extracurricular activities on offer at the school. It’s the perfect example of a holiday greeting which also underscores the institution’s unique selling points and key recruitment messages.
3. OSU President Straps in for a Wild Holiday Ride
At many schools, it’s customary for the University President or Dean and their partners to star in the annual holiday video, but few go to the lengths that Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis and his wife Ann do in their effort this year.
Accompanied by the OSU Swift Water Rescue Training Team, the couple brave a seasonal white-water rafting ride at Riversport Rapids in Oklahoma City, the most advanced rapid water facility in the world. The unusual, high octane setting makes for a truly memorable festive clip.
4. Emory University’s “Unofficial Mascot” Spreads Some Holiday Cheer
Every school has its own unique traditions, but few are more interesting than Dooley, the biology lab skeleton who roams the halls of Emory University. Since first appearing on campus all the way back in 1899, this mischievous character has served as the “Spirit of Emory” and a kind of unofficial mascot for the institution. The campus even celebrates an annual Dooley Week in Spring, when Dooley dismisses classes for a few days of fun activities and events.
Dooley always adopts the first name and middle initial of the current university president (she is currently Lady Claire E. Dooley) and the identity of the students who portray her is always a closely guarded secret. And while she may look like she would be more at home at Halloween, Dooley isn’t adverse to some holiday cheer around December.
In this video, entitled Holiday Hand Delivery, she spreads some festive cheer on her scooter to various students and faculty around the Emory campus, accompanied by falling snow and some fantastic acapella carolers.
It’s a great example of a school creating a video that’s truly in keeping with its individual identity and character.
5. Penn State’s Lion Stars in His Very Own Version of Home Alone
Another great effort starring a school mascot comes from Penn State University. In this clip, PSU’s Nittany Lion finds himself with the run of the campus after the school’s students and faculty head home for the winter break in a clever parody of the 1990 holiday classic Home Alone.
Just like Kevin McCallister, the Lion initially enjoys pigging out on junk food and generally creating chaos in the campus library, hockey rink and gym, among other places. Eventually, though, he realizes that his Penn State ‘family’ are what really makes the school feel like home.
6. McMaster Engineering Hit All the Right Notes in this Higher Ed Holiday Video
Reworking the lyrics of popular festive songs is a common higher ed holiday video trope, but this effort from McMaster University’s Engineering Department is a cut above the rest. In a parody of a talent show audition, a diverse cast that includes students, staff, and Milo the Dog lip-syncs to a Mac Eng-themed version of Mariah Carey’s ubiquitous All I Want for Christmas is You.
7. A ‘Cool’ Yuletide Effort from Carlson School of Management
This video from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management is one of the most beautifully shot of the year. The clip depicts the school’s community coming together around a specially built ice sculpture of the school’s logo. Set to festive music with lightly falling snow and exquisitely framed shots of cheerful students sipping hot cocoa with marshmallows, it has an understated elegance that few other schools can match.
8. Azusa Pacific University Find the Spirit of the Season
Last but certainly not least, this video from Azusa Pacific University is perhaps the most heartwarming higher ed holiday video you’ll come across this year. Finding Christmas: An Azusa Pacific Christmas Story has a deceptively simple concept, with various members of the school’s community talking about what the holidays mean to them.
The results are deeply moving, as students mention everything from small moments to deeply personal memories. Touching, brave, and honest, it’s a great example of the power of storytelling and authenticity in higher education marketing.
As always, it’s worth mentioning that there were plenty of other schools who created excellent holiday greeting videos this year and narrowly missed out on being included in our list. Unfortunately, there just isn’t room for everyone! Nonetheless, it is well worth searching online to see what else you can find.
In the meantime, we hope this list has given you some ideas for your school’s own seasonal marketing efforts, or just helped you get in the holiday spirit. And finally, from all of us at Higher Education Marketing, we’d like to wish all of our readers a happy and joyous holiday season, and all the best for the New Year!