University of Phoenix Dives Into Immigration Debate With Latest Ad


Pivot from its previous campaigns on working parents

After dedicating its last few ads to themes of female empowerment and the plight of the working parent in today’s America, for-profit University of Phoenix touched on an even more contentious topic in its latest spot: immigration.

While a May ad channeled labor icon Rosie the Riveter, this week’s climactic minute-long “To My Great-Granddaughter” tells the story of an immigrant who worked low-wage jobs in the States before educating herself and eventually becoming both a white-collar professional and a great-grandmother.

It’s the latest work from creative agency of record 180LA, which launched a comprehensive effort to repair the university’s reputation in early 2016 by casting it as a place for Americans to begin moving up the economic ladder.

“University of Phoenix students overcome obstacles because they believe education has a profound ripple effect. Their struggle and their sacrifice—all so that those around them can live better lives—is both beautiful and inspirational,” said CMO Joan Blackwood in a statement that made these aims a bit more concrete.

The ad deftly avoids touching the political third rail, a wise choice given recent headlines about the Trump administration’s desire to cut legal immigration totals in half.

It also refrains from naming the protagonist’s vaguely European place of birth while simultaneously casting her as the victim of a war-torn society whose new life as an educated American will be passed on to the newest generation of her family.

“University of Phoenix came to us with a true insight of not just having a purpose to graduate students, but to graduate families across the board,” said 180LA executive creative director Eduardo Marques, himself an immigrant from Brazil. “That quickly resonated with us, brought back real memories and paved the way for this campaign.”


Client: University of Phoenix
Agency: 180LA
Title: “To My Great-Granddaughter”

Chief Marketing Officer: Joan Blackwood

Chief Creative Officer: William Gelner
Executive Creative Directors: Eduardo Marques & Rafael Rizuto
Creative Director: Wilson Mateos
Strategy Director: Kaleen Ogden
Senior Producer: Dominque Anzano
Senior Copywriter: Josh Hacohen
Senior Art Director: Karine Grigorian
Head of Integrated Production: Natasha Wellesley
Business Director: Loretta Zolliecoffer
Brand Director: Sandy Song, Jillian Nalty, Alexandra Pickett
Account Manager: Nicole Dezzutti

Sound Mix: Loren Silber @ Lime Studios
Music Production: We Are Walker
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan, Sara Matarazzo
Composer: Jeremy Yang

Senior Producer: Michael Miller
Head of Production: Jennifer Locke
Executive Producer: CL Weaver
Editor: Conor O’Neill
Edit Company: Exile
Editorial Assistant: Rex Lowry
VFX Producers: Liza Kerlin, Marcus Speaker

Post-Production House: The Mill
Flame: Steve Cokonis
Executive Producers: Thatcher Peterson, Enca Kaul
Colorist: Adam Scott

Production Company: The Corner Shop
Producer: Jay Shapiro
Head of Production: Anna Hashmi
Director: Peter Thwaites

This article first appeared in

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