New advertising campaign set to capture the imagination

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Launching today, York University’s new advertising and marketing campaign, “Open Your Mind,” is designed to attract the attention and interest of prospective students by creatively articulating the University’s commitment to intellectual curiosity and new ways of thinking. It’s a big and exciting concept that speaks directly to what is distinct and different about York University by focusing on the endless opportunities, expected or otherwise, that the University has to offer and where a York degree can take graduates.

“As a still relatively young university, York was born – and remains – very progressive,” says York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “The Open Your Mind campaign captures this spirit by engaging creatively with the University’s academic and research strengths, and by drawing attention to what makes York different from other learning environments.

“This advertising and marketing campaign not only captures the open-minded spirit of the University, but it also sparks the imagination, inviting students to consider York University and to discover how our commitment to new ways of thinking equips students to succeed, while providing a rewarding  environment for our educators, researchers and staff,” adds Shoukri.

YFILE_Brand2015_3Open Your Mind utilizes a blend of high-impact multimedia and vibrant imagery to promote the strengths of the University’s innovative programs and research to potential students and their parents. The campaign was led by Communications & Public Affairs, with broad consultation from the University community – from the president, provost and deans to current and future students, parents and guidance counsellors. Research obtained through intensive qualitative and quantitative research informed and validated the creative direction. The creative concept was developed by doug serge + partners, York University’s agency of record.

“Open Your Mind sharpens and fine tunes what it is that makes York University so special,” says Susan Webb, York’s chief communications and marketing officer. “Common threads emerged from our research, the strongest being York University’s focus and commitment to encouraging new ways of thinking. York University’s faculty, researchers and students are curious by nature; they take things apart and put them back together in new and different ways.”

A key insight offered by the research findings is that life and career paths are far from being straight lines. Open Your Mind speaks to that insight by communicating how living in an increasingly complex world requires new ways of thinking and fresh ideas to deal with complex issues, and how this approach differentiates York and its role in creating tomorrow’s leaders.

YFILE_Brand2015_1In a series of ads, vivid campaign visuals are juxtaposed with a headline giving rise to multiple interpretations of what a student may be exposed to in different programs. Interpretations range from what is typical and expected in York’s programs to what is unexpected but still possible. Using the headline “This is …,” visitors are invited to consider how, for example, a rocket relates to art programs offered by the School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design, or how a butterfly in flight expresses the Lassonde School of Engineering’s approach to creating tomorrow’s engineers.

“York University has a reputation for pushing the boundaries of new ways of thinking in everything we do. In terms of the student learning experience, we have been steadily expanding innovative eLearning strategies and experiential education opportunities such as the flipped classroom focus on problem-solving and research activities. We are known for our interdisciplinary approaches to both teaching and research, and for our attention to the impact of our scholarly, creative and research activities,” says Rhonda Lenton, vice-president academic and provost.

“We work closely with both local and international partners resulting in our well-deserved recognition as an approachable University. We are the only University in central and southwestern Ontario to offer a comprehensive suite of bilingual programs. Open Your Mind speaks to how York University does things differently,” adds Lenton. “The campaign highlights the strengths that underpin each Faculty in a confident and bold manner that recognizes the significant accomplishments that York continues to achieve.”

YFILE_Brand2015_2Over the next few weeks, the campaign will roll out in multi-platform media, including television, digital, TTC and GO Trains, print advertising and more, culminating in a bold new presence at the Ontario Universities Fair taking place Sept. 25 to 27 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

For more information and to see the campaign in action, visit the Open Your Mind microsite, which offers potential students information on the myriad of career opportunities made possible through an education at York University. It also features a contest for future students to win a grand prize of free tuition for one year.

University community members can visit the Brand Communications Toolbox website for additional information. Questions or comments can be sent to

By Jenny Pitt-Clark, YFile editor