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Engaging students with a genuine psychological experiment we were able to help Deakin University increase potential student leads while also raising its profile as academically interesting.


Deakin University and Hardhat faced a couple of related challenges:

  1. To attract more qualified leads from Year 11 students who are starting to think about their future study direction and which university to apply to.
  2. To raise Deakin’s profile for professional research, enhancing its credibility with potential future students.

A specific goal was set was to provide 7,000 Year 11 student leads.


A famous 60’s study, called the Stanford Marshmallow test, sought to find out exactly how impulsive or restrained young children were, by examining their ability to delay gratification. The test gave children a simple choice - one reward provided immediately or two rewards if they waited for a short period, during which the tester left the room and then returned.

In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer, and subsequently doubled their reward, tended to have better life outcomes.

No such test had ever been done for Millennials. What better way of testing just how impulsive they are than by repurposing the 60’s experiment while putting Deakin front of mind?

To attract this audience of Year 11 students and test what kind of generation they truly are, we posed the question, which would you rather have?

$5,000 in cash money granted right NOW
$10,000 in cold hard cash, deposited directly into your bank account... in 3 years time.

The experiment was launched online and to offer some context, entrants were provided with background on the Stanford Marshmallow test and the psychology that propels it. If interested in the theory, they were then directed to Deakin’s Psychology portal to learn more about a potential career path at the university.

To drive awareness of the competition, we partnered with the media publisher that matched the target demographic, Pedestrian.TV. They created engaging editorial to introduce the competition, which was distributed via their social channels, eDM database and further supplemented with display takeovers for Pedestrian.TV website visitors.

To encourage further conversation, peripheral content was created and distributed via Deakin’s social channels, eDMs, and the ‘this.’ content hub. To make the content interesting, Deakin experts added their hypotheses from a variety of perspectives (financial, psychological, etc.).

Using the competition entry form, key data was captured including location, gender and school year level. This enabled Deakin to analyse a variety of results and provided an opportunity for university experts to offer insightful commentary on “why” behind the findings.

The campaign allowed Deakin to explore an existing societal conversation, with a new, interesting and brand-ownable spin.


The final result of the test showed that Millennials are indeed more patient and restrained than we give them credit for with 63.5% choosing $10,000 in 3 years as their preferred reward over the 36.5% that choose $5,000 now.

The test provided 3 entry opportunities to progressively profile participants with the initial form, secondary questions and final follow-up via email to qualify their year level. This led to 21,910 total competition entries based on 10,226 unique lead entries - 46% more than the target of 7,000.

Overall, Facebook ads generated 19,723 link clicks to the competition page, plus 2,717 link clicks from Facebook posts on Deakin’s page.

Two key insights came from the experiment:

  • People who indicated they are happy tended to select the better long-term decision.
  • A higher percentage of females chose delayed gratification than males.


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