Getting motivated to study while in school is challenge enough. Taking the initiative to go back to classroom as an adult to gain a GED (General Educational Development) diploma, however, might require some extra encouragement. To motivate the 35 million Americans who don’t have a high school or GED diploma (despite the fact that 89% of American employers require one) to take the plunge, DDB Chicago and the Ad Council created the GED Pep Talk Center.
The Pep Talk Center features a series of 13 celeb-delivered coaching sessions with various levels of intensity to match an test taker’s needs or particular personality, ranging from the gentle (Debra Jo Rupp of That 70’s Show) and enlightening (rapper DMC of Run DMC), to the in-your-face (Seinfeld’s Jerry Stiller) and extreme (actor Danny Trejo). Other famous pep talkers include, in increasing order of persuasiveness, football star Terry Crews, Lost actor Henry Ian Cusick, actress Wendy Raquel Robinson, Sopranos actress Jamie Lynn Sigler, NYC radio host Angie Martinez, actor Ron Perlman, and WWE star The Miz. The website, which provides resources for those interested in obtaining their GED and real-life success stories, is supported by a 60-second spot, directed by Jesse Dylan, where the pep talkers dish out the necessary motivation from a bustling call center. There is also a hotline with the option to choose the appropriate level of encouragement; a special text service to get a celebrity callback and an option for family and friends to send a pep talk to their loved ones over Facebook.
For DDB creative directors Matt Collier and Wayne Robinson, the idea for the campaign came from the simple fact that talking to such a large and diverse audience in one voice would not have worked. “By using celebrities with a range of pep talks, people could find their level with someone that would give them just the right amount of motivation,” says Collier. In choosing pep talkers, Collier and Robinson carefully chose celebs that were recognizable and possessed a character type that was instantly known. “For our gentle pep talker, we wanted a friendly, grandmotherly character,” says Collier. “Debra Jo Rupp ticked all the right boxes. And for the other end of the scale, we managed to secure the services of the meanest, most badass Hollywood actor you could find: Danny Trejo.”
Starting with relatively limited media exposure, the campaign has already received over $40 million worth of donated media, proving the cause to be a topical one. And with rumors that Beyonce has hit the books to get her own GED, getting schooled could very well be the next big thing.