The University of Texas-Pan American's Reel to Red Productions can boast about another win for its online projects: a Bronze Telly Award. The Silver Telly Council recognized and honored Reel to Red's "Who Knew?" campaign, which is a series of seven 30-second television spots used to promote UTPA, in the category Online Video Campaign - Not-for-Profit.
Founded in 1979, the Telly Awards is the premier award honoring outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, the finest video and film productions, Web commercials, videos, and films. Winners represent the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, and corporate video departments in the world. Some major winners include Comcast, Discovery Channel, Harpo Studios, Microsoft, and NBC Universal.
The win is unique for the student television production group because it won for its achievement in a professional category rather than a student one. This makes the second Telly Award for Reel to Red. Its first, a Gold Telly, was awarded in 2006 for Reel to Red's first major project, a short film called "Going Nowhere."
Each year, the judges consist of a group of highly qualified advertising, production and other creative professionals. Judges from all regions of the United States sifted through about 11,000 entries from all 50 states and five continents.
Reel to Red worked on the campaign under the creative direction of Chelse Benham, director of Reel to Red located in the Office of University Relations. With a documentary and a dramatic film under their belts, Benham wanted the students to tackle unfamiliar territory.
"I wanted them to learn how to build a cohesive ad campaign that had a consistent aesthetic and a focused message targeted to young people. Each spot had to stand alone, yet work together as part of an integrated whole," she said.
During a brainstorming session, Benham said she wanted to highlight unique aspects not previously used to market the University to high school-aged youth. It wasn't until the group's assistant director Alexis Carranza comically repeated a certain phrase they found the name of their campaign.
"We kept talking about things most people don't know about the University like how the ratio of female students to male students is high or that we've had a lot of celebrities and famous people speak on campus," Carranza said. "I would shrug my shoulders and say, 'Who knew' in an aha kind of way."
Their awareness campaign focuses on the University's proximity to Mexico and South Padre Island ("Location, Location, Location"), the large size of the campus ("Big Campus"), the close-knit community ("Everybody Knows Everybody"), its affordability ("Arm and a Leg"), the large amount of activities to choose from ("Busy Schedule"), the many celebrities that have visited ("So Many Celebs Visit"), and, of course, the high ratio of females to males ("The Best Odds").
Reel to Red worked hard to make its commercials stand out with their content and aesthetics to make sure they attracted the targeted high school-age audience.
"We all learned how to use a new special effects program so we could give the commercials an animated yet realistic look," said Hilda Del Rio, one of the team's graphic designers. "We combined green screened footage with photos and animated the material together in After Effects to create the stylized look for the series."
After the spots were completed, the team tested the campaign on a group of high school students whose ages ranged between 14 and 17. They reacted overwhelmingly positive to the campaign.
All seven of the "Who Knew?" spots can be seen on Reel to Red's Webby Award-winning Web site, www.reeltored.com by clicking on the house's door and then on the doors labeled "Editing Bays" or on YouTube by searching "reel to red who knew."