As a part of its We Rise campaign, a for-profit school seems to succeed where many non-profit universities struggle in higher ed recruitment. In a single thirty-second spot, the University of Phoenix addresses the major pain points impacting key demographics of a diverse group of audiences, many of whom institutions of higher learning find hard to reach.
Higher ed marketers are well aware that the “typical” college student has shifted from middle class teenagers with parents can afford to pay full tuition to include more atypical and diverse sets of student types. Many students are working full-time, have children and are cash strapped or sleep deprived. Others are returning veterans, first generation Americans or are struggling to care for family members in need.
In the ad, “If I Only Had A Brain” from The Wizard of Oz has been adapted for use in the new world of higher education where imagery and lyrics blend to portray the challenges experienced by students of all ages while simultaneously celebrating the characteristics that define success.
For students – the school implies that it values hard-working, resilient and dedicated applicants – and for potential employers – graduates are confident, tough and the type of people you can rely on. It’s a really smart concept.
This single TV ad successfully addresses what many fail to:
- Multiple types of students: traditional aged, employed, older, veterans, caregivers, parents with kids and more
- Negative sentiments: from critics who think a degree obtained from a for-profit institution isn’t a “real degree”
- Employers: by implying that University of Phoenix graduates posses the qualities of success
It is easy to ignore advertising from for-profit institutions. They tend to take a beating in the higher ed world as critics claim the degrees do not hold the same value as those from more traditional not-for-profits.
But tell that to the employers we’ve talked to over the years. Many – admittedly not all – aren’t concerned about for-profit vs. non-profit, but they are concerned about new employees having the skills, experiences and characteristics needed to excel.
Admittedly, we haven’t yet seen the statistics to learn if inquiries have increased or if employers’ perceptions have become more favorable toward the University of Phoenix since this campaign started. Based on our own research outcomes, employers seek graduates with real life experience who can juggle complexity, get the job done and confidentially handle challenges. We have found that they do indeed seek more than brains.
More Than Brains – https://youtu.be/v2IkZZmd6RA
To learn more about our work with colleges and universities, please visit our Education page or contact Elizabeth Foley [email protected] / 215-545-0054 x111 or Linda McAleer [email protected] / 215-545-0054 x104.