Proclaiming the benefits of an interdisciplinary education

In a world without borders, who better to educate the next generation of decision makers and thinkers than an interdisciplinary university without borders? That is the key message of a new brand campaign launched today by York University.

The reputational campaign builds on York’s existing brand with new broadcast, print and elevator-screen advertisements. Targeted at people whose opinion of York makes a difference, the campaign expands York’s interdisciplinary message with a series of nimble radio and video spots, plus a set of print ads, each reinforcing and expanding on the concept of an interdisciplinary education.


Above and below: Examples of York’s new print advertisements

The fully-integrated multimedia campaign brings the interdisciplinary message to the influencers who have a say in the reputation of York but who may never actually come here. These influencers also include parents and employers, who play an important role in decision making as young people plan their postsecondary education.

Starting today, they will hear innovative radio advertisements during their daily drive to work, they’ll see video spots during the elevator ride to their offices and, as they settle in for a quick review of the morning headlines, they may find their newspaper wrapped in York messaging while the local news section features innovative banner advertisements.

“Our research shows that young people and potential students have a good understanding of what York offers, but the older adults who may have a say in a unversity’s reputation often have no actual experience with York University. Those are the individuals to whom we have to communicate our message,” said Richard Fisher, York’s chief marketing & communications officer. “This campaign builds on our award-winning brand and highlights the benefit of York’s unique style of interdisciplinary education.”

The new campaign homes in on the concept of an interdisciplinary education and what it means in a world without borders. “A world without borders needs an education without borders,” said Fisher. “If you consider a topic such as SARS or pandemic flu, it doesn’t come in a box as strictly a biological or epidemiological problem. There are enormous political, economic and social ramifications. That is York’s interdisciplinary message and we are conveying it in this new campaign.”

The campaign was developed in conjunction with the doug agency in Toronto and features, at its core, two 30-second radio spots. The ads, which began airing on Toronto radio stations today (listen for them during drive time on 680 News and CFRB 1010), will continue into June. As with York’s print ads, the two spots play on what various researchers see in common items — in this case, the business section of a newspaper and a chicken –and stress York’s interdisciplinary approach. The listener is then directed to the University’s Web site. To hear the ads, click here for the business-section spot, and here for the chicken spot.

Added into the mix are two video spots which will be shown in elevators with video screens operated by the Elevator News Network, which runs in office buildings across the Greater Toronto Area. The soundless video spots will run during the months of May and June. “People in these towers spend a lot of time watching the elevator video screens,” said Fisher. “Now we’ve given them something pithy to look at during their trips to and from work.”

The video spots feature two alternating advertisements continuing the deft play on what York researchers see. One is similar to the business-section ad on radio and in print, the other to a print ad involving a coffee cup. To view a Quicktime video of the coffee cup spot, click here. To view a Quicktime video of the business section spot, click here.


Above: Mock-up graphic of  the Globe wrapped with York’s interdisciplinary message

Extending this brand messaging on the concept and benefits of an interdisciplinary education is a series of print advertisements. They will appear in The Globe and Mail newspaper during the months of May and June, and are augmented by a recyclable plastic wrap on the newspaper that showcases the interdisciplinary concept.

“We’ve taken the heart of a very successful brand and extended its reach during a key time for students and their families, and, at the same time, we have conserved resources in anticipation of the University’s 50th anniversary campaign,” said Fisher.

There will be further York messages in the air this week. Fisher’s team also helped the York Alumni Office with its new tactical campaign (watch for more details in an upcoming YFile). “The campaign is an invitation to alumni to reconnect with the University and participate in the Alumni Office’s Perks program,” said Fisher. “The combined reach of York’s brand in both campaigns is both comprehensive and efficient.”