In my day, university recruitment campaigns consisted of a few posters in the Year 12 common room.
Now it seems wherever I look, there is another TV ad, billboard, bus wrap for a university, full of idealistic, fresh-faced undergraduates espousing the qualities of their particular place of study, encouraging students to be ‘wordly’ ‘inspired to make an impact’ ‘brilliant’ or perhaps to ‘make a difference’.
And these campaigns are slick, fully developed campaigns with high creative and production values. They are multi-channel and show significant planning and investment. So, the question is, what impact do they have? Are the kids knocking down the doors to get in?
Big questions need big answers right? So I did a straw poll in the Luma office, (sometimes called ‘expert interviews’ in the research industry). What emerged was firstly, admiration for the creative and production values, but, it has to be said, a feeling of ‘sameness’. All credible institutions with impressive claims, but difficult to associate with one particular uni. And if they’re all saying it together, at the same time, there is great potential for misattribution. Another clever sounded marketing word that means they’ll mix up who is saying what.
Clearly, Australia has universities of exceptional quality and for them, making sure applications keep flowing in is really important. A poster in the common room is not going to cut it. Neither will saying something so similar to the other place, that nobody notices.
There is a flaw in my method. Did you spot it? My ‘straw poll’ was with people who haven’t been the target of an undergraduate campaign for at least 10 years. And of course, what really matters, is what the students think. What do they bring to the table in terms of existing awareness and perceptions? These campaigns might look very different to students. To find out, you’d have to ask them. What do you think?
View the University of Queensland ad >>
View the University of Tasmania ad >>
View the Monash University ad >>
View the Federation University of Australia ad >>
View the Swinburne University ad >>
Author: Nikki Howlett
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