The Open University: Free Your Ambition

In 2018, Havas helia and Havas Media were chosen by The Open University as their creative and media agencies.

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The Open University, the UK’s largest academic institution, came to us with significant growth targets, but with shrinking YoY budgets, and less room for differentiation in-market - with traditional competitors expanding their offerings and new challengers providing fresh new alternatives. To deliver our growth targets we needed to broaden appeal of The Open University to a more diverse pool of prospective students, beyond their traditional audiences.

As an institution that prides itself on making education accessible to all, our audience is large and diverse. There is one thing that unites them – a desire for positive progression in their lives, but on their own terms - where, when and how they want.

Working closely with Havas Media, we developed audience and channel insights which led to our proposition, ‘You-Shaped Learning’ – inspiring individuals to realise the possibilities of acting on their ambitions, if they could do it on their own terms.

We developed customer journeys and contact strategies which meant we could divide our communications by audience, channel and purpose into three tiers:

  • Inspire: Motivate audiences to feel inspired to achieve their ambitions
  • Explain: Demonstrate the brand as an enabler
  • Act: Encourage them to take the most relevant action for them

Free Your Ambition

We launched a major campaign for The Open University to inspire people to harness their ambition through education and achieve life-changing results with the university’s flexible offering.

The ‘free your ambition’ multi-channel campaign highlights the university’s wide appeal as a flexible, distance-learning institution. Running under a ‘Your Ambition, Our Mission, Set yours free’ strapline. The campaign appeared across TV, cinema, radio, out of home and digital.  

'Free Your Ambition' tells three inspiring, interwoven stories of people whose lives have been transformed through studying with The Open University. Shot in reverse, it opens with the culmination of their studies – including a ‘Mr Richards’, taking his first class in his dream job as a teacher – before tracing their unique journeys back to the moment that inspired them to apply to The Open University. Showcasing The Open University’s unmatched ability to help turn ambitions into opportunities, the ad also highlights its inherent flexibility around students’ lives.

It was shot by Ivan Bird – one of the UK’s most sought-after commercial directors and cinematographers, best-known for his work on Guinness’ iconic ‘Surfer’ and ‘Swimmer’ commercials – through Moxie Pictures, while the media placements were planned and bought through Havas Media.


Havas helia

Havas helia is Havas UK's specialist customer engagement agency, based out of London and Cirencester. We combine data, technology, strategy and creativity to deliver meaningful engagement between brands and people, across the entire length of the customer journey. We work with some of the largest, most influential and most ambitious brands, including adidas, Tesco, Starbucks, Lloyds Banking Group, Compare the Market, Diageo, Royal Mail, Volvo, Heathrow and GWR.

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