High Schoolers All Look Exactly Alike in This Ed-Tech Ad

Because one size rarely fits all

First, we had so many Adam Drivers in Squarespace's trippy Super Bowl spot. Now, Blackstone's Renaissance ed-tech brand explores similar territory, positing a school where all the kids look exactly alike.

The point: One-size-fits-all solutions are hopelessly passé. It's time to "See Every Student" as an individual and teach to their unique strengths and weaknesses.

Do they all share the same locker?

Canadian actor Samuel Israilov appears and appears and appears in the :30 from Goodby Silverstein & Partners and director Clay Weiner. The work reintroduces Renaissance, paving the 40-year-old company's path to the future.

"The mission is bringing teachers and school administrators technology that helps them deliver more personalized teaching," agency creative director Jon Wolanske tells Muse. "This is something that's needed now more than ever, in this post-pandemic era of hybrid learning."

When the team began brainstorming, "it brought to mind all the times in our lives when a great teacher had really seen us and recognized us," Wolanske says. "Our challenge became telling a story about one student being noticed by their teacher, with the help of tools from Renaissance."

GS&P sought to craft a cross-generational vehicle, sans dialogue, "knowing this had to play to global audiences," he says.

With today's educators facing more software choices than ever, "we wanted them to take a moment to wonder if those solutions are delivering on student growth," says agency brand strategist Chelsea Bruzzone. "This film is an empathetic portrait of what it's like to be a student in this moment, and the need for tools that can help teachers do what they naturally do so well, even better."

The results are cerebral and low-key, with the duplicates angle fairly subdued. (Though shots of Israilov wrestling himself in gym class brought Volunteers of America's volatile 2019 double-take to mind.)

"The hardest part of this production was finding 30 identical kids," quips GS&P creative director Jon Wyville. 

"Actually, the trickiest part was shooting every scene with the same actor playing multiple roles in each shot—different characters in a typical high school," he says. "Each scene was built with many plates of the same actor. We used this approach to really hit the truth that, in many schools, students are taught the exact same way, versus meeting their individual needs."

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