You might know MasterClass from those seductive trailers that pepper your YouTube experience with stars (65 of them!) who promise to teach you about their craft. There’s Natalie Portman on staging a scene, Steph Curry on where to aim, Shonda Rhimes on writing a TV pilot, for example.
Now, the online education platform is branching out with its first, full-fledged brand campaign, and it’s tapped Conde Nast Artistic Director and Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour as its frontwoman.
The effort is the first big initiative from the company’s new CMO, David Schriber, a former Nike VP of global brand experience. It leverages the talents of agency Observatory, designer Jessica Walsh of &Walsh and photographer Tyler Mitchell to relay the theme of “How to Be a Boss.”
The campaign showcases not just Wintour’s image, but her words too, all of which are pulled directly from her own MasterClass video on creativity and leadership. Agency Observatory helped Masterclass land on the idea of using Wintour’s words as the core of the campaign, and Walsh then built the idea out with her bold graphics and typography, coupled with Mitchell's vibrant portraiture.
The effort first dropped in the New York Times Sunday business edition and on Vogue.com, with executions also running in major NYC subway stations and various social channels.
MasterClass has long promoted itself through performance marketing with its star-studded trailers. Schriber says those so far have “been extremely effective given our audience lives on social media.” When asked why MasterClass is making the move now into traditional media, the brand “is becoming about all of our instructors as a collector force,” so “it’s a much bigger story to tell,” he says. The campaign is meant to speak to what its entire roster of instructors is about, “showing up and being a boss, whether that be in business, music, writing, acting, cooking or sports.”
As for why Wintour was chosen to be the face of the brand campaign, “Anna and her message transcend a broad audience and truly represent all 65 of our instructors on the MasterClass platform,” Schriber says. “She's teaching us how to show up at life and in work. It’s what, at its core, MasterClass is all about.”
Going forward, Schriber says that other instructors will become part of the brand push. “We’ll use an ensemble to share that we have diversity and depth in MasterClass,” he says. “You can make a playlist of learning across our instructors and that’s something we’ll want to celebrate broadly.”