‘This Way Up’ ad campaign targets broad range of prospective students
By Jenn Tyborski
Last month, Roosevelt University officially debuted its “This Way Up” ad campaign to attract a wide range of students. The campaign was unveiled Sept. 16 and will run through March 2014. As with previous campaigns, the university’s marketing team partnered with Tom, Dick & Harry Creative Co. (TDH), an advertising agency located in downtown Chicago.
Patrick Lytle, chief marketing officer at the university, was one of the project’s key members.
“We’ve been working with them for several years now,” Lytle said. “We’re trying to get a campaign that authentically represents who we are and seeks to raise that awareness as best we can.”
This year’s campaign is different in one specific way: the ads feature members of the Roosevelt community. Students, faculty and staff are portrayed in the images (excluding an office building, which is a stock image, according to Lytle).
Lesley Slavitt, vice president of government relations and university outreach, referenced the change.
“Unlike the ads we’ve done previously, most of these ads [have] Roosevelt students and administrators and Roosevelt places,” Slavitt said.
The ideas for the campaign began with research-inspired ideas from the marketing department, which crossed over to the agency. Combining efforts, ideas and work, the “This Way Up” campaign was created.
Following last year’s campaign to encourage more non-traditional students to apply for fast-track or graduate programs, the new campaign is aimed at students of all sorts. As Lytle explained, the university wants to reach as many eyes as possible, and although not specifically targeting one particular group to improve enrollment, the messages portrayed are meant to portray emotion that connects with all ages.
“It’s a campaign that is really broadly based, but it’s intended to target–well it’s split down the middle,” Lytle said. “I wouldn’t necessarily say undergraduate and graduate, but younger and older.”
Outlets for the campaign include CTA–busses, trains, platforms and bus shelters–digital media online, a large display in Woodfield Mall near the Schaumburg Campus, a digital billboard along I-290 near Schaumburg, radio such as Pandora, and new this year, images cinema screens in various locations.
According to Slavitt, there were two different scripts in the radio commercials.
“One [script] skews older, and on skews younger,” Slavitt said. “We very intentionally wanted to create messages that are creative and spoke to a younger, traditional-aged audience as well as an older audience–be that who’s an older student or graduate student.
Generally, the office of enrollment and admissions collaborates with the marketing team to inform them of where the university would like to see an increase in enrollment. For this campaign, the target was mostly researched based, and all preconceptions had to be moved aside to accommodate results.
“We researched in the beginning, middle and end culmination of the process,” Slavitt said. “What we found was we were very authentic with the messages that we developed because they were so based on the authentic voice of our student body.”
As the research extended from younger prospective students to older prospective students, Slavitt noted on a theme that both Lytle and her saw in the results.
“There was a lot of resonance between [age groups],” she said. “I think that’s true because what we found [in the] research was that although they may be at a dissimilar place in their lives, they have similar goals, and similar feelings about what they want for themselves, their lives, communities and families.”
The casting process for the campaign relied on connections Slavitt and Lytle already had with students. Identified students were senior Giacomo Luca, journalism major, and junior Victoria Pena, finance major.
“In my job, I get the opportunity to work with different students, to get to know different administrators, particularly on issues that matter to the university,” Slavitt said.
Pena said she was approached by Lytle after he saw her speak at a conference on student loan interest rates with Senator Dick Durbin.
Luca said he was approached by Lytle after Lytle viewed some of the work he had done in broadcast reporting.
According to Slavitt, her reasons for selecting Pena were because of her passion, authenticity and presence. As for Luca, Slavitt thought he would be good in front of the camera because he “had a poise that would read well.”
Luca said it did not phase him to dress and model as a science major.
“I don’t think that being a journalism student really matters,” he said. “It’s an advertising campaign, and I acted as a model.”
Both students were compensated for their time with “modest” gift cards.
Also shown in the campaign is Roosevelt’s registrar, LaKisha Young. Young is shown in a warehouse located in Gilberts, Ill.
Approximately eight groups tested the campaign before its release. The groups consisted of prospective students and their parents and close relatives.
According to Lytle and Slavitt, the research concluded that the campaign did represent the overall community–adding that broad advertisements helped to achieve that goal.
Because the campaign was heavily researched based, and the office used data sources for everything, the office was unable to consider creating ads that were more major specific. For example, using an acting or musical major would have reached only a small niche of the market, according to Lytle and Slavitt.
“We were very intentional to the timing of the campaign,” Slavitt said. “So whenever possible, we tried to ensure that we’re very data driven in the decisions we make.”
Research and data driven meant outsourcing the jobs of the campaign. Head of the IMC department Mickey Brazeal agrees with the offices decision.
“Management does not involve faculty in the process,” he said. “I think that’s a justifiable decision, as management is accountable for marketing’s success.”
However, when asked if he felt the campaign truly represents Roosevelt, he said, “I think it would be interesting to consider a program-specific approach.”
At this point, the marketing office only has early numbers.
“There are certain channels in advertising that we can measure,” he said. “Digital obviously being the best opportunity to measure. We got early numbers in, three weeks into the campaign, that we’re performing at three and a half times the average performance level in our sector,” Lytle said.
Advertising consists of 30 percent of the annual budget, according to Lytle.
However, the actual amount varies by year.
The university’s 2010 Form 990 reports that only 22 percent of the budget was used for advertising and promotion. By the 2012 Form 990, advertising and promotion was at approximately 38 percent–an increase of 16 percent of the budget used.
On the first page of the “This Way Up” booklet, Lytle sums up the project’s goal:
“We want advertising that is authentic, creative and thoughtful in its representation of the University.”
What people are saying on Facebook:
“I feel like they need some edge. Who’s their target? Third direction in three years.”
“Very subtle motion. Where is the emotion?”
“I’m sure [the] administration loves them because they obviously made these for themselves. These certainly aren’t speaking to students or parents.”