The school system is not in good shape. Kids are behind across the board. The system can’t keep up and teachers have had enough: Up to 40% of Canadian teachers plan to leave the profession within the next 5 years.

Enter UpGrade, a new digital platform for tutors. UpGrade helps students and parents find tutors and hosts 1-on-1 classes with a fully collaborative whiteboard. But no one had ever heard of this new company. They asked us for a launch, from brand identity and strategy to a creative campaign.

What We Did

We created the brand values and gave UpGrade a strong, smart, and slightly cheeky voice. Then came a visual identity with a wordmark and icon. We built two websites, one for teachers and one for students. Finally, we created a campaign to recruit teachers. It wouldn’t be easy.

The Challenge

UpGrade needed to find a small niche within a niche of teachers: student teachers and fresh grads. These are teachers that are not paid well and need a side hustle. 

Our research found that many of them quickly feel powerless in an underfunded, legacy education system. Though the majority of teachers are passionate about what they do, many feel boxed in by the system. We’d need to speak authentically to show that we understood their altruism and frustration.

Finding them was tough. Unlike a lot of professions, most teachers are overwhelmingly NOT on business sites like LinkedIn. And you can’t target them in their workplace, either. It’s simply not allowed to visit schools and put up posters.

The final challenge was actually registering teachers for UpGrade. It takes multiple steps and documents to upload accreditation.


No matter how dysfunctional the education system may be, teachers want to teach. All we had to do was communicate that UpGrade could help them do what they love, without the system.

The Campaign

The idea was “F the System”, a poster and social campaign that reinforces what young teachers already believe—that kids need extra help at school like never before, and the education system isn’t enough. 

We put up provocative posters in a few key universities with bachelor of education programs. Simultaneously, we began the social media ads with 10 unique posts, all optimized in real time. Every touchpoint fed to a teacher-specific microsite and the registration process.


In the first 24 hours alone, 50% of our target had begun registering. Nine days later, we had 100% of them registered. And when we sent emails to teachers, the open rate was 63%, about 170% higher than industry average. The early results were so promising that UpGrade began recruiting students four months ahead of schedule.