Webster launches new ad campaign
High school seniors are the target of a new Webster University advertising campaign which was launched at the beginning of the Spring 2011 semester. Through new advertising mediums, Webster is hoping to attract traditional undergraduate student applicants.
Two new television ads featuring Webster students began airing Jan. 24, following new radio and billboard ads. The advertisements, aimed at high school seniors, are a shift in focus — advertisements in the past have typically focused on non-traditional adult and graduate students.
Andrew Laue, the director of Undergraduate Admissions, said this change in marketing stems from the administration, which has committed itself to traditional undergraduate recruitment and enrollment.
“Some of Webster’s reputation has been as a school for working adults,” Laue said. “We wanted to remind people that first and foremost, we are a liberal arts university. We have residential halls, athletic teams. We are somewhere people have come to right out of high-school, and that’s what this advertising has been about.”
Laue has seen a response to the new advertisements, with increased traffic on the school’s website and increased applications from high school students. “That’s what we really want to change,” Laue said. “We realize that advertising specifically to high school students has been lacking in the past. We’re looking to change that.”
The use of new media in the advertising also makes this campaign stand out from previous efforts. Forty percent of the advertising budget is appropriated to new media, primarily web-based advertising.
This is compared to the national average advertising expenditure on new media, which Thomas Lauher, Webster’s director of marketing and media planning and placement, estimates to be about 10 percent.
Included in this new media approach are increased web ads, such as on Facebook and Twitter. This is in part an effort to not only to reach high school seniors, but to also reach potential students from out of state.
In the creation of the advertising campaign, Webster cooperated with Hughes, an advertising agency in St. Louis.
One of the collaborators from Hughes was a Webster graduate himself, and drew from his experiences at Webster to help create the concept of the advertisements, that Webster students are free to define themselves and their education without being restricted by major.
Matthais Muutuki, a senior audio production major, was featured in one of two television ads. Although portrayed as a fine arts student giving a fictional economics presentation in the ad, he relates to the message.
“The idea behind it is true,” Muutuki said. “I’ve definitely taken classes well beyond my major. The overall premise is what I agree with.”
In addition to the two students involved in the creation of the television ads, seven Webster alumni were involved in the creation of the advertisements, including set workers, a photographer and the voice over in the radio and television ads.
“In a crew where more than one-third of those involved in the production are Webster grads, that says this is a darn good degree,” Lauher said.
Based on the success of the campaign so far, Lauher expects it to be continued and built upon.
Even the people involved are amazed by the effect the campaign has had.
“I just thought it wouldn’t be that big of a thing but it turned out bigger than I expected,” Muuttuki said. “People are like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re the face of Webster,’ — it’s a weird feeling.”