Higher Education Uses Its Brain

USF MarketingGetting INTO a good college is tough, we all know. But, unless you’re one of the Ivys or have a stellar sports program, for some colleges getting students TO APPLY can be even tougher. That’s why this campaign really caught my attention.

USF (University of San Francisco), not to be confused with UCSF (University of California San Francisco) or CCSF (City College of San Francisco) or SFSU (San Francisco State University) had an *acronym-identity* problem. It is a University almost as old as the city, but San Franciscans were majorly confused about its initials.

“Our research really confirmed that we are not as well-known in our city as we perhaps once were,” David Macmillan, the university’s vice president for communications and marketing said. “We felt it was important to be visible and to set ourselves apart from all the other universities that are out there.” (Hmmmm, pretty common branding issue.)

And so was born USF’s first-ever marketing campaign! Spending less than $1 million dollars, their use of simple, clever headlines EVERYWHERE — on billboards, buses and transit shelters, is creative genius! The campaign emphasizes three priorities: 1. USF’s  rigorous academics; 2. The University’s Jesuit values; and 3. The School’s essential part of the San Francisco community. For even more awareness, the University brilliantly asks its own student body to help spread the word on a web page dedicated to making the campaign shareable on the most popular social platforms.

The excitement that this campaign has generated has rejuvenated USF. And I must agree, it is very refreshing! GWH W.T.F. Award WINNER all around. Boy do I wish more clients were willing to take such risks with such simple, edgy campaigns.
Read more at the San Francisco Examiner.

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