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Special Project

Special Project
From the 11th Annual Shorty Awards

The Commencement

Audience Honor in Long Form Video


Graduation day. The moment your name is called on stage, diploma about to be gripped proudly in hand. That is where this video begins for Samir, an Indian student graduating from an English-speaking university. His story is one of perseverance, sacrifice and courage, and this day is not only a culmination of years of hard work, but the commencement of something greater.

The U.S. has historically been a stronghold destination market for international students who wish to pursue higher education and use it to achieve personal and professional goals. However, in recent years, various socioeconomic and sociopolitical challenges have caused steep decline in international students, especially Indian students, in the U.S. To TOEFL, losing U.S-bound students equals losing business revenues. The brand needed a way to reconnect positively with this audience, to increase engagements and to be top-of-mind again.

Strategy and Execution

For a child born in India, it can be hard, if not impossible, to find their way out of the role they were born into. A proven escape from poverty is learning English and earning a degree abroad. This is where the TOEFL® test can make all the difference. More than just an English-proficiency test required for university applications, it's a mentor, a guide, and a means to improve English skills in pursuit of a degree – creating opportunity locally and globally.

The TOEFL Commencement video engages with Indian students and parents in an authentic, meaningful way by illustrating this journey. It relates on a highly emotional level, but more importantly, is sparking a vital audience to take the next step toward reaching their full potential.


The results have been powerful – not only millions of views and shares, but true change. The negative sentiment has started turning to hope. Indian students are seeing their options in a new way. In the face of obstacles, they are turning to the TOEFL test to help them break through.

Specifically, the video has garnered a sizable cross-platform engagement rate of 15.44% (exceeding higher education industry benchmark by 361%).

To date:

> 62MM impressions

> 2.8MM views on YouTube

> 2.6MM views on Facebook


Video for The Commencement

Entrant Company / Organization Name

MRM//McCann, ETS