A Quick Follow-up for Delaware the Musical

Four months of planning, choreography, writing orchestra parts, recording orchestra parts, incorporating ideas from prospective students, choir rehearsals, coordinating spaces and hundreds of students, meeting with alumni and faculty for inspiration, filming, editing, mixing, a HUGE on-campus release party, and 37,000+ hits later, Delaware: the MUSICAL is pecking its way through the depths of the internet.

Four months of planning, choreography, writing orchestra parts, recording orchestra parts, incorporating ideas from prospective students, choir rehearsals, coordinating spaces and hundreds of students, meeting with alumni and faculty for inspiration, filming, editing, mixing, a HUGE on-campus release party, and 37,000+ hits later, Delaware: the MUSICAL is pecking its way through the depths of the internet.


Can we justify spending several thousand dollars and literally hundreds of hours on a 7-minute sing-and-dance video?  Was it really worth it?

To quote a favorite Missy Elliot song, “Let me work it,” out for you.

While it is simply not possible to accurately quantify the exact return on investment, there are a number of measureable facts that help affirm its success.  The primary goal of this project was to enhance our search process.  With the help of Fire Engine RED, we purchased and distributed search materials (online and print) to 50,000 fewer names this year, but have had a 7% greater response than last year.  The video has been viewed in over 100 countries and is trending well with our target market on YouTube and in the blogo-twitter-sphere.  These are very technical terms so please try to keep up…

Moving beyond the numbers, the video series was able to engage and acknowledge our prospective students in a way that’s never been done before.  We were thrilled by the responses to our initial video from high school sophomores & juniors.   Honestly, we weren’t quite sure if anyone would respond and, if so, what they might suggest. Most wanted to see or hear something about traditions. Since so many of UD’s revolve around The Green, we knew that’s where the story would need begin and end.  We also answered questions about the names of our colleges and the number of majors offered.   But what prospective students REALLY want to see is real students being active on campus. By placing a heavy reliance on our most valuable resource - the talent of UD’s students and alumni – not only were we able to show that off, but we were able to produce the entire video in-house and on a very modest budget.   There was some wiggle-room because of the money we saved from buying fewer names, but we kept costs down whenever possible.

We have plans to produce a summer short on discovering UD, with Drew and myself answering other questions submitted by our search respondents. We won’t be able to show all requests - such as a man on the moon with a monkey (yes, I’m serious) - but we’ll try to honor many.

But we’re not the only ones using the Musical.

The video will be used as a key component for our New Student Orientation this summer and will be featured during UD’s Forum and Reunion Weekend, an annual event put on by Alumni Relations that brings back thousands of alumni to campus for a celebration of all things Delaware.  It was shown to the Parent Board and Board of Trustees, and the University’s Development Office sent it out to 15,000 young alumni as a fundraising tool.  That particular campaign had nearly a 10% response rate, as opposed to the <1% they typically receive.  Finally, Amy, Drew, and I have even been guest speakers on campus for marketing and PR classes, so there’s been a direct educational benefit as well.  I would hardly call myself an expert in either of these fields but our experiences were honest and valuable and the students really did learn something from us.  If only there was a class on making cheesy videos…

Of course it was impossible to predict all of these uses for the video, but I would suggest thinking of ways to incorporate the needs of the ENTIRE University into your project.  Or at least a few other departments/student groups.  By including a huge number people in the process, we really got the most for our money.  And once we were ready to launch, we had a 1,000-person-strong army ready to go as part of our publicity team, saving time and energy in that regard as well.  Will we ever reach Yale’s numbers?  Probably not.  But I’m thrilled with our circulation to date, which is much higher than the YouTube count because of a simultaneous release on the UD Podcast website and iTunes U.  When we give presentations to prospective students and their families, Drew and I will regularly be stopped and asked, “Hey, aren’t you the guys from Delaware: the MUSICAL?”

We certainly are! And it’s SO nice to see you here on campus!

So yes, Delaware: the MUSICAL was absolutely worth our time and money.  The most important - and perhaps the most valuable - thing that we’ve learned is that sometimes it’s worth taking a risk on creative and ambitious projects.  The more adventurous the initiatives, the more buzz-worthy the outcomes (as long as you have a great staff that supports you).  We were able to bring together an entire University community - current students, administrators, faculty, alumni, and prospective students - and capture the energy of Delaware in a way that has never been done before.  On a personal level, the entire experience has been a true joy, and from what I gather, everyone involved seems agree with me.  It’s transformed my perceptions of what is possible on our campus and I’m very excited to be a part of our future experiments in social media.

With or without a beard.

This post was written by:

Avi Amon

Avi graduated from the University of Delaware inwhere he is now an admissions counselor in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. He is also a full-time musician, a cycling enthusiast, and was the producer, director, composer, and co-star for Delaware: the MUSICAL. Avi doesn’t have a twitter (yet) but stop by his website and blog if you’d like to connect or keep up on new projects and other adventures.

8 Responses to “A Quick Follow-up for Delaware the Musical”

  1. Says:


    Great work on the video and thanks for sharing some data on the results. Glad to hear that you feel like you’ve gotten a positive ROI on the project.

    The points you make about alumni are really interesting. I could definitely imagine something like this really taking off among alumni and current students (who are probably more apt than prospects to share the video on Facebook profiles and the like).

    • Says:

      Thanks, Mark!

      You’re absolutely correct about alumni/current student excitement about the project. It helps to have actually gone here myself - to have access to those groups - but I don’t think it’s a necessary requirement.

  2. Says:

    I’m printing this out to put on my wall. Any chance you want to come speak to some of the people I work with?

    • Says:

      Ha! Thanks. I’m sure you’re joking, but regardless, shoot me an e-mail sometime - avi.a.amon@gmail.com - to chat!

  3. Says:

    Thanks for sharing this story. I really appreciate it when people go above and beyond the normal effort in creativity. Plus you used a classic social media tactic- ask people what they want. It gets them involved.

  4. Says:

    What an awesome video!

    You (and yes, that Yale video) set the bar high for engagement with multiple constituencies on college promotional videos. My department, UCLA Transportation, recently produced its very first promotional video (a short documentary on bicycle commuting, featuring a staff member and a graduate student). Even though our documentary production was on a much smaller scale than DELAWARE: The Musical, I have found that it has energized my department’s staff and enabled us to build relationships with our cyclist constituency in ways that we hadn’t before. Our challenge now is to how to get non-cyclists to see it … we’re a big campus, and there’s a lot of competition for attention spans!

    If you’re interested in checking it out, cut/paste this URL into your browser: https://www.bit.ly/bikeumentary.

  5. Says:

    That vid was amazing! Thanks for linking it. I throughly enjoyed

  6. Says:

    wo0o0o0o0o0o0w,,,,amaizing I like it guys!!!….welldone great job…I missed delaware very much dela where?? ;-(,,,,I missed trubant, smith hall, main streat, the library, chrestiana towers, I missed the staff prof. Grean, Lesa Grifics, steve amaster ,sean cox,,,bryn,,,,hopefully one day I could sea you again,,,,

    By the way,,,I’m Muwadda Al-Hady from Yemen ,I’m a UD mepi leadership alumni from,,I’m studying nowadays business adminestration,arab activist youth in youth development, and working as an alumni coordinator,,,when I came to UD for the first time I felt home-sick ,,,but now I’m feeling delaware-sick ….wish all the best to UD family ,,,,please,,,please,,please if there is anything I could help with just let me know ,,,,

    Let peace and love lead the way..
    Muwadda”the most successful business woman in the world from ten years from now ;-) ”..