When it comes to S3’s proficiency in the delivery of student recruitment campaigns, there is no bolder, braver or better example than its role in the University of South Wales’ 2018 Clearing campaign, ‘Unleash Your Colours’.

BRIEF & OBJECTIVES

Having won a competitive pitch process to work as the key provider of USW’s 2018 Clearing undergraduate student recruitment campaign, we got to work on what would become one of the agency’s standout integrated offerings.

With the student recruitment picture more challenging than ever, the university needed something truly special to cut-through in a marketplace with fierce competition.

Objectives included specific targets for number of student enrolments in the 2018 cycle, as well as the full and confident realisation of a creative theme provided by USW.

Strategy

With an initial idea for powder paint visuals, it was over to S3 to develop the creative concept and apply insight to the bones. From traditional A Level entry students to mature; we began by researching USW’s different audience types.

We ensured each was reflected in the end creative by setting a campaign style that exclusively endorsed the use of real students; giving each their own identity through bespoke choreography and colour attribution. Ultimately, this represented their unique experiences – and ensured USW’s creative worked for the audiences it served.

Using 75kgs of powder paint, one slow-motion camera hired in from LA, and five days’ worth of relentless shooting at Pinewood studios, S3 brought Unleash Your Colours to life.

Copy was then tested and applied to the finished product, which was then served to millions via an intelligent, integrated media campaign.

Tactics

We used our expert research tools to identify how both 17 and 18-year-olds – and the mature returning students – go about their daily routines, feeding this insight directly into our media plan.

The striking creative was delivered across a nationwide campaign spanning video on demand TV, outdoor and digital radio.

In addition, a multi-layered digital campaign ensured those bought into the brand were driven to university application; reaching students at every touchpoint when online. This included browsing websites available on the Google Display Network; watching videos on YouTube; scrolling through their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter newsfeeds; and swiping through their Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram Stories.

This awareness not only generated enquiries in the lead up to results day, but in conjunction with the media campaign, it encouraged 51% more students to search for the university on results day, with a 254% lower cost per click (vs last year).

On results day, hourly reporting and our Head of Digital working in the USW office alongside their team, helped us focus the campaign on high-converting terms gained from our previous two years’ experience. This enabled us to generate an additional 57% enquiries and 41% more offers made on results day – a significant achievement, considering most universities in the sector experienced lower volume of enquiries and lower number of applications.

The end result was a campaign creative that broke boundaries for USW in terms of engagement with the brand. This engagement came not only from students, but from USW’s internal audiences. Staff from across the university were noticeably taken by the new visual identity, with it being used for the first time across areas outside of the Clearing campaign: from prospectus covers, to UCAS stands, to campus signage.

HIGHLIGHT OUTCOMES:

  • Prompted brand awareness among UK 17-18 year olds grew 10%
  • The campaign delivered £1:£7 ROI in terms of student recruitment
  • Winner of the 2019 CIM Best Integrated campaign (Large)

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