How to reach young free-thinkers who aren’t always listening.
University of the ArtsBrand Building
University of the Arts DEAR WEIRD
Next-gen creatives can’t be, won’t be labeled. They sniff out the inauthentic in one click. There’s too much else to see, create, de-construct, imagine. So it was simple. We just had to deliver a hit of dopamine as strong as all the other verbal, visual and video signals clambering for their attention.
University of the Arts is a place in motion. A gritty urban school with a vision to inspire, educate and prepare creative leaders for the 21st century. Its goals are audacious. It would graduate the kind of leaders who do nothing less than transform the role of art in business, society and politics. It was big idea thinking.
Poetry. High key.
Propaganda won’t play.
Our strategy was admittedly old school. (Which we knew, from lots of conversation with current UArts students, is a good thing.) We would make a few, very special, pieces about the University. Each piece would feel one-off, unique – just like the kind of work the students are pouring their heart and talent into every day. And night. We would reshape the UArts brand to reflect its disruptive vision and attract the daring students who would make it a reality.
We could have saturated the mailboxes and in-boxes of our target with glossy hyperbole – frankly, like most other universities. But we weren’t targeting just any student. We were shaping the future.
They want to discover things for themselves.
The young people we wanted to reach are slippery. They move rapid-fire from one brand to another with decreasing loyalty. Yet they’re increasingly desirous of more personal engagement with brands they’ve discovered and selected as “theirs.”
We helped them discover UArts through a limited-edition book that was the antithesis of a college brochure. It barely mentioned the school. Instead, it was an emotional, poetic signal to the kind of person who would flourish here. It was shared. Re-printed. And today, it’s in the permanent collection of the AIGA.
Serious. Informed. Unafraid.
Potential UArters needed to see themselves in the lives of current students. With one third of all online activity spent watching video, it gave us a powerful platform. We shot an ode, of sorts, to young artists, dancers, musicians, composers, dreamers, and rule-breakers. It captures community without saying it. Possibility without hyping it.
Largest application increase in 130 years.
During the campaign period, UArts saw the largest increase in applicants in its 130-year history. Endowment jumped from $13 million to over $70 million. The work was supported by wildly disparate constituencies. Talk about weird and kind of wonderful.