We created a new McGraw-Hill brand to engage college students.

Brand Strategy
Campaign Strategy
Content Creation


Getting College Students Excited to Connect - The challenge of branding Connect, McGraw-Hill Education’s digital learning assistant, may best be summed up in the first line of the video spot Garfield created for the product: ‘“My favorite hobby is reading my textbook,” said no one ever.’

Going to college is an exciting time for many reasons — it’s a transition into adulthood, into independence. You make new friends, join organizations, and learn about yourself in the process. But one aspect of college life that doesn’t tend to thrill students, from 18-year-old freshmen to parents taking evening classes, is textbooks. Even if those textbooks provide the same personalized, adaptive, high-tech experience students get from their favorite gadgets and apps.

McGraw-Hill Education decided to change that — and enlisted the help of Garfield to make students excited to use Connect. It was July, and the first day of school was coming up in just a few short weeks. Would that be enough time to Create Brand Action and deliver A+ results?

When the grades came in, the answer was a resounding “yes.” Let’s take a look at how this campaign graduated summa.

What we did

Connect: College Smarter, Not Harder - A month isn’t a long time to create a new logo, look and feel, landing page, email campaigns, social ads, SMS messages, long-form content, a video storyboard, multiple print pieces, and swag options. But with teamwork, determination, and plenty of coffee, Garfield conceived and executed a concept we believed would communicate the Connect value prop in a way that resonates with a diverse group of students: College Smarter, Not Harder.

In four words, all the technical benefits of Connect — from time-saving ebooks highlighted to signify the most important parts of each reading, to algorithms generating custom study guides, to alerts reminding students to head to class or study for exams — were summed up in one, powerful benefit. Connect is a more efficient way to learn, giving you more time to live your college life. Whether that entails joining your SGA, trying out for the rugby team, packing the kids’ lunches, or diving into a new novel, Connect frees you to be you while making it easier than ever to get the grade.

Brand Action

1M Ad Impressions and
50K App Downloads in 4 Weeks

50,000 dowloads
of the ReadAnywhere app
45% open rate
on our student email campaign
70,000 Opt-ins
to receive SMS communications
Social Success
Over one million social ad impressions

It took the Garfield team more than a few long nights, a handful of productive weekends, and even working through a holiday to hit the ever-important back-to-school deadline, but the effort paid off in a huge way. In a mere four weeks of running the campaign, the results we outstanding.

Connect managed to eclipse its YOY conversion rates in just 30 days, proving that College Smarter, Not Harder was a motto students from any university could rally behind.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcomes we’ve seen as a result of the College Smarter, Not Harder campaign. The branding, voice, and content managed to reach a wide swath of students from a variety of different backgrounds and walks of life. Garfield helped us position Connect and digital platforms as the future of learning, not just secondary supplements to traditional course materials. Changing mindsets and encouraging people to be open to transformation is no easy feat, but Garfield made it happen.”

Betty Nelson
SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, McGraw-Hill Higher Education

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