Three years ago, we wrote a blog post covering the top 10 education-related advertising and marketing campaigns of 2012. Despite its age, this has proven to be evergreen content and has earned continued visits throughout the years. So we’ve decided to update it with 10 education-related advertising and marketing campaigns from 2015 worth sharing.
As most of our readers know, and as our quarterly higher education inquiry generation reviews detail, the education industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Many colleges and universities are struggling with downward enrollment caused by changing population trends, a strengthening economy, ROI questions related to rising tuition rates and more. To succeed, schools must engage prospective students throughout the marketing funnel, from early awareness to enrollment and beyond.
This blog post celebrates 10 education-related advertising and marketing campaigns we think are clever, awesome and/or innovative for a variety of reasons including creative executions, strategic use of cross-channel media and ability to drive extended engagement. Enjoy.
1. Babson College – The Entrepreneurs
Successful entrepreneurs form an elite club ― one most aspiring business students would like to join. This campaign from Babson College, a Massachusetts-based business school, leverages those aspirations to capture the attention of their target audience. Employing Hollywood-style design, they feature successful entrepreneur alumni to illustrate how a degree from Babson puts driven individuals on the path to great things.
2. Paul Smith’s College – At Your Service
This print spread for Paul Smith’s College in upstate New York was a multiple award winner. Using props not often related to education, they engage prospective students while encouraging dreams some might consider unconventional ― like being a whitewater guide. The showcased soldier lets them target the highly coveted military audience without the typical (and potentially over-used) “military friendly” language. The use of a female demonstrates a belief in women to achieve their dreams. All very subtle. All quite effective.
3. University of Roehampton – #WeAreUR
The best community engagement campaign of 2015, according to the UK Social Media Communications Awards, was deployed by the University of Roehampton. Students of the university were encouraged to post their “best and most exciting images” on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #WeAreUR. Once a month, the 10 best photos for the period were uploaded to the campaign’s Facebook page for voting via engagement. Photos received one point for a like, two points for a unique comment and three for a public share. The winning photographer for each month was awarded a University of Roehampton scarf and had his or her photo entered into the final gallery for a chance to compete against the other top photo takers. Launched originally in 2014, this has become an annual event. In fact, the 2016 contest is in action right now.
4. Newcastle College – It’s a Different Class
A career school in the UK with programs ranging from animal care to fashion, Newcastle College proves they understand their target audience with the “It’s a Different Class” campaign. The numerous creative executions, including TV, outdoor and more, depict students outside the classroom, learning various trade skills.
Programs at Newcastle College use hands-on learning to prepare students for hands-on industries. The team that developed this campaign was comprised primarily of people who attended Newcastle College. This first-hand knowledge, of how the culture and class style differ from more traditional schools, resulted in spot-on creative that stands out.
5. Georgetown University – Georgetown Stories
The Georgetown Stories campaign also launched in 2014, but we’ve included it on this list because it was still very active in 2015. Using first-person video blogs (or vlogs), undergraduate students shared their student experiences throughout the academic year. Georgetown University promoted this campaign and encouraged others to share their experiences – including classes, events, parties, travel and everyday life – through videos, photos and social media posts with the hashtag #Georgetownstories. This multi-media campaign has engaged active students while providing opportunities for prospective students to get a glimpse into student life and for alumni to reminisce and re-engage with their alma mater.
6. Thurgood Marshall College Fund – #HCBULove
Approximately 20 percent of African Americans in the U.S. who earn undergraduate degrees complete them at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Unfortunately, due to a combination of funding issues, leadership challenges and other struggles, HBCUs across the nation are suffering from declining enrollments. To unite HBCU communities, raise awareness of their contribution to American society and promote the benefits of acquiring a higher education from an HBCU, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) turned March into HBCU Awareness Month, now also known as “I Love My HBCU!” Month. In 2014, TMCF stepped their campaign up a level and asked people to share their pride moments using the hashtag #HBCULove. Followers voted for the school with the most HBCU pride, and three schools were each awarded $1500. This campaign, which was repeated in 2015, united HBCU communities and formed an alliance of advocates, supporters, students, faculty and alumni.
7. The University of Saskatchewan – Saskatch-er-whuh?
Many schools struggle with limited brand awareness, but few take such a straight path to turn that challenge into an opportunity. Deploying a multi-channel marketing campaign that included video, social media and print components, the University of Saskatchewan (USask) called themselves “a well-kept secret” and won multiple 2015 Hermes Creative Awards in the process.
8. University of Maryland University College – Alumni Social Media Campaign
The University of Maryland University College (UMUC) is another multiple Hermes Creative Awards winner for their series of alumni communications. A Valentine’s Day email campaign titled “Love Your Career, Your Journey, Your Alma Mater” called for alumni to join the UMUC Alumni LinkedIn group and won in the email communications category. Their alumni Facebook page also won a platinum award ― this one for the superior user experience and engagement opportunities. UMUC also won a gold Hermes award and multiple honorable mentions. As a result of these efforts, UMUC alumni were better connected with the school and with each other.
9. Wellesley College – This Is the Place
When you have the likes of Diane Sawyer, Robin Chase (CEO of Zipcar), Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright providing testimonials for your school, you find a way to leverage them. “This Is the Place,” a campaign film from Wellesley College, uses interviews interspersed with beautiful campus visuals and depictions of current student learning to display the setting and opportunities they provide for great female leaders to get inspired. It’s hard to watch this video and not envy those who follow the paths of these women.
10. University of Oregon – Nationwide Outdoor Campaign
Many colleges and universities use billboards and other out-of-home media to drive awareness for their programs. Unfortunately, the creative executions are often cluttered with images of smiling people and little that differentiates the school. That’s not the case for this University of Oregon nationwide outdoor campaign, launched in January of 2015. The sparse creative uses only text, school colors and a bit of humor to share pride in what their graduates have been able to achieve.
Want to chat about how you can boost your higher education marketing efforts? Contact Digital Media Solutions today.