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UCLA was looking for a way to tell its rich, multidimensional, infinitely complex story in a meaningful and memorable way. A story that would unify an $8 billion institution and flex everything from undergraduate and graduate admissions, 12 colleges, research, a health system, development and athletics under one ambitious brand.


In just shy of a century, UCLA has achieved, innovated and impacted the world more than most institutions twice its age. This is where the Internet first blinked to life. Where racial integration happened decades before Brown v. Board of Education. And more Pell Grant recipients attend than the entire Ivy League combined. Nobel laureates. Academy Award winners. Fortune 500 company leaders. Entrepreneurs. Music executives and rock stars. Hall of Famers. Innovators. Inventors. Instigators. Initiators. Being fiercely independent and decentralized means UCLA accomplishments span the breadth of human endeavors. It also means that the university struggled to effectively communicate as a whole, and many misperceptions prevailed.


160over90 found a common thread in this wildly diverse university: an uncanny sense of optimism. When you combine this spirit of optimism with the power of a T1 research institute, the result is game-changing. The Optimist campaign was born. Two nationally broadcasted TV spots were created featuring iconic Bruins like Jackie Robinson, Francis Ford Coppola and Anna Lee Fisher. A national campaign was created celebrating these game-changers, including outdoor ranging from LA to Times Square, print, a microsite, digital, radio and nontraditional. This idea of optimism was infused throughout all university communications, viewbooks, acceptance packages and the .edu site. This set the stage for UCLA’s capital campaign. Enter the “Let There Be” campaign — an open-ended invitation that plays off of the school motto, “Let there be light.” Launched as a documentary-style video series, it gave voice to those whose everyday lives had been impacted. Narrated by John Lithgow, the campaign premiered at a launch event along with a 3D map projection on Royce Hall.


Together, the Optimist TV spots have pulled in over 5 million views on social media alone, and 500 million media impressions. The Optimist concept has permeated every inch of UCLA spawning apparel, groups, and countless individuals branding themselves “Optimists.” Admissions has increased over 36%. And the launch of the “Let There Be” capital campaign has proven record-breaking in conjunction with UCLA surpassing its annual goal by 12% and raising over a half-billion dollars.

5 Million Views of TV Spots Through Social Media
36% Increase in Applications
Surpasses Annual Capital Campaign Goal by 12%