The anxiety recent graduates experience when confronting their loans reappears in “The Red” with advice and tools on how to manage it.


BOSTON – Now that graduation has arrived, students around the country are about to be hit with their student loans for the very first time. A campaign by American Student Assistance™ (ASA) just launched to help students and recent graduates manage these loans. Through a short, psychological thriller film, The Red spins a story about the anxieties of being in debt and the relief that comes from facing them. The Red is part of a multi-media campaign created by ad agency SS+K to compel and empower young people to take control of their debt on a practical, day-to-day level.

The Red also introduces SALT™, a free, nonprofit resource created by ASA™ to help students and graduates better manage their loans and enter the real world on more solid financial footing. When signing up for SALT, they can enter for a chance to win $10,000 to pay for college or pay back their loans at

Nearing a trillion dollars, student debt affects nearly 15 million Americans under the age of 30. Few students and recent graduates even know what they owe – and they aren’t actively seeking advice on what to do about it.

“It isn’t easy to get young people who feel panicked about their debts to do something about it,” said Sue Burton from ASA. “To connect meaningfully with them, we produced something very entertaining that acknowledges how frightening it can be, yet portrays their own power and offers a path out of the nightmare.”

In “The Red”, which premiered in theaters across the country and launched nationally online at, a 20-something girl is terrorized by ominous red smoke. The smoke follows her at every turn, mirroring the suffocating financial strain of a post-college world. No matter how hard she tries, she realizes that there’s no avoiding The Red. The only option is to face it.

“The Red” was directed by the Borderline Films trio of Antonio Campos, Sean Durkin and Josh Mond — the critically acclaimed filmmakers behind the thrillers “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and “Simon Killer.” The filmmakers know firsthand the horror of mounting student debts and the paralyzing fear that it can create. “We know exactly how scary it is to owe a ton of money for school and have no clue how to pay it back,” said Mr. Campos. “This is a story we related to. The feeling of ‘The Red’ made sense. And we embraced the opportunity to work on this project.”

“The Red” premiered in Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Tampa and Washington, D.C. – focusing on cities with a large student population and high percentage of young people with student debt. Beyond the film, a main focus of the campaign is to bring information and resources to students and recent grads through platforms and mediums that they already consume and trust. The campaign includes multiple content partnerships with millennial-focused media outlets like The Onion, BuzzFeed, College Humor and MTV.

About SALT & ASA: SALT is a free educational resource that provides simple, smart, personalized ways for college students and recent graduates to take control of their student debt and manage their finances. With a combination of helpful tools, tailored information, and unbiased expertise, SALT helps young people borrow less, borrow smart and repay their loans in a way that works for them. SALT was created by American Student Assistance, a nonprofit organization with 50+ years experience helping people make better decisions about financing their education and repaying student loans.

About SS+K: SS+K is the marketing/advertising agency that produced the most-discussed video of the 2012 presidential campaign, “Your First Time,” featuring Lena Dunham, and the award-winning “The Most Honest City” initiative for Honest Tea. SS+K helped GM introduce the Volt, and with Pfizer created the “Get Old” campaign. Current clients include VW, the College Board, Wells Fargo, Travelers, Kraft Foods and, the organization launched by Mark Zuckerberg and other technology leaders to promote immigration and education reform. In 2004, working with Nike, SS+K introduced the iconic yellow Livestrong wristband. Founded in 1993, SS+K is partially owned by the Hollywood agency CAA.