A great example of what makes a marketing video successful.

This video was effective because it made you think and it also made you feel.

Western Sydney University developed a series of promotional videos to showcase powerful and engaging stories of graduates from their school. These videos provide a rather unique opportunity to examine what makes a marketing video successful.

The videos were well conceived and very well produced dramatizations that delivered engaging stories about graduates from the school. And to help maintain a level playing field for purposes of this article, the two videos highlighted here happened to employ the same excellent Jarryd James song – Do You Remember.

Take a moment to watch the one of the other videos created, it’s also very well done.


Both videos are engaging and tell interesting stories, but only one is truly powerful.

It’s difficult to watch Deng Adut’s story and not be overwhelmed by the challenges he had to overcome and the determination required for him to achieve what he did: Escaping conscription into the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army; teaching himself to read as a teenager; living alone in a foreign country; sleeping in his car and juggling part-time jobs. It’s a remarkable story.

As if all of this isn’t enough, we’re also reminded at the end of the video that Deng grew up without the love and protection of his mother. Those last few frames in the video are incredible. We can only imagine the pain and grief the two have experienced and the bittersweet knowledge that, against all odds, Deng’s courage and determination helped him succeed.

That’s the feeling part.

This video couldn’t come at a more important time as the refugee crisis continues to grow across Europe and the world takes a dangerous right turn towards more insular and nativist politics. Our reptilian brains are trained to respond to negative stimuli – that’s how we survive and that’s why the media only feeds us information that scares the hell out of us.

What we really need to hear are the positive stories associated with a more open and inclusive world and about the benefits of helping others in need. We North American’s often forget that we’re all children of immigrants, that immigration is a good thing and that helping others is just as important as enriching ourselves.

That’s the thinking part.

You don’t have to agree with the politics. What’s important is that this video actually makes you think for a moment. Even better that the video also makes you feel.

This video has been hugely successful attracting 2.5 million views to date and generating a great deal of media coverage.  The other video is very good but does not come close to achieving this level of attention. Why? Because Deng Adut’s story left a powerful impression. The other story did not.

If you can make the viewer of your video think and feel something then you will leave a lasting impression. That’s an awfully difficult thing to do, by the way. If it was easy, the other videos in this series, produced by the same production company for the same client, would have been just as powerful.

Western Sydney University chose a non-standard path in deciding to dramatize the stories of their students. By doing so they have separated themselves from the mass of undifferentiated college promotions and chose instead to inspire the viewer with the possibilities that come from a Western Sydney degree.

Deng Adut’s story reminds us all of the good that can come from helping those in need. Thank you Australia and thank you Western Sydney.





Jimm Fox


Jimm has been working in video and marketing for the last 25 years agency side, client side and in video production.

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