What happened when Anna Wintour starred in MasterClass' first brand campaign

The Vogue editor taught MasterClass users how to be a boss.

Campaign: How to Be a Boss
Company: MasterClass
Agency partners: Rogers & Cowan/PMK (PR), Observatory (creative)
Duration: September 2019

To kick off a new series of courses on leadership, online education platform MasterClass tapped Vogue editor Anna Wintour to star in its first branded campaign called How to Be a Boss.

MasterClass provides online video courses taught by experts across industries, including Annie Leibovitz on photography, Shonda Rhimes on television, and Gordon Ramsay on cooking.

Last summer, the company wrapped production on a series taught by Wintour.

“We were all struck by how succinct and direct she was in her delivery and instruction,” said MasterClass CMO David Schriber.

The insights she provided, coupled with her direct delivery, prompted someone on Wintour’s team to say her class was actually about how to be a boss, said Schriber.

“We all looked at each other, and said, ‘Yes,’” he said. The concept was both specific to Wintour and one that could be widely applied.

“Having a boss attitude is something that our consumer might say in a tweet or a text in reference how they showed up in a conversation or at work today,” Schriber said.

Running with the idea, MasterClass conceived of a new category of courses, of which Wintour’s class would be the inaugural offering. The goal of the campaign was to reach as many consumers as possible who would be interested in Wintour’s advice on taking charge of their careers.

Upon greenlighting the idea, MasterClass hired creative agency Observatory, designer Jessica Walsh of &Walsh, and photographer Tyler Mitchell to turn Wintour’s class into a branded campaign.

Wintour’s MasterClass was released on September 5, 2019. The branded campaign launched on September 15, a date chosen because it lined up nicely with people returning to work following the end of summer and the conclusion of New York Fashion Week and the U.S. Open.

The campaign included a takeover of the Sunday New York Times’ business section and out-of-home ads across New York City’s financial district, including a takeover of the World Trade Center subway station, which allowed the company to play video assets on the station’s large video screens.

“We built this incredible journey through a station millions of people pass through,” Schriber said. “As people walked through the station during their commute, they could get a piece of Anna Wintour’s inspiration.”

The campaign was also distributed widely on social media, with paid support on multiple platforms including Instagram. As with all of its courses, MasterClass created a trailer for Wintour’s class, and used clips in posts across social media.

Rogers & Cowan/PMK reached out to Business Insider with the exclusive. From there, it pitched a wide range of outlets, from lifestyle to trade to business publications.

How to Be a Boss generated 128 earned media placements, including write-ups in Business Insider and Thrive Global.

On Instagram, the campaign - which featured a series of 10 posts - generated more than 405,000 views and 38,000 likes.

The trailer for Wintour’s class has been viewed more than 11 million times on YouTube.

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