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Uncoordinated Co-Branding

Khan Academy is my favorite site on the Internet. A non-profit organization offering “A free world-class education for anyone, anywhere,” Khan Academy is a rare gift that deserves all the fanfare and revelry it gets. Offering classes and lectures to master subjects ranging from Pre-K arithmetic to linear algebra, the Academy has already taught me more than most tenured high school teachers, and it is more cost-effective than my accredited college alma mater.

Not long ago, their personal finance curriculum started being sponsored by Bank of America, a for-profit megalith. Born out of earnest, no doubt, but an e-ducation (all rights reserved) non-profit partnering with one of the world’s most scorned corporations feels odd. This is a rare occurrence where the partnership is mutually beneficial for both parties, likely provides a better end-product for the consumer, and yet may be lambasted by the public for one entity “selling out,” and the other for piggybacking off the success of the storybook start-up.

But really, this would all be forgiven if the content of their messaging wasn’t so painstakingly dull. Khan Academy is fun! Its “gamefication” of learning is part of what makes it so endearing! These ads sound like, well, someone wants to teach me about personal finance. Where’s the flair? The benefit? The hook?

A noble mission, a headscratching but likely harmless union, and a blunted effort to inform the masses. I’m not sure why I expected more from the website that’s reminding me how to divide fractions, but word-of-mouth advertising and blog posts like this one will continue to champion Khan’s growth.

~ Chase Cambria, Jr. Copywriter, The S3 Agency


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