In 2015, the University Of Western Australia undertook a major brand re-positioning to shake the perception of it being an ivy league elite institution and become more relevant to modern students ready to change the world. The campaign was called “Pursue Impossible” and we were engaged to bring the new campaign to life through digital marketing.
The market research showed that potential students saw university courses as a pathway to all kinds of possibilities, not necessarily a single career for life. Students also cared deeply about the planet's future, not just their own.
Because we understood that this new generation of potential students did think about solving world problems, along with looking for courses that would future-proof their career choices, we developed the concept of getting students to pitch what courses UWA could potentially offer to cater for future jobs. We created an online competition to Pitch The Course Of The Future. A purpose-built contest webpage let potential students upload their 2 minute video pitch for their course concept. The enticement was a $10,000 travel prize to anywhere in the world to research their course idea and pursue their impossible!
The contest landing page.
The www.courseofthefuture.com.au landing page spelt out the details and guidelines for the Pitch, plus gave some simple tips on how to shoot an effective video pitch. Contestants were required to download and include branded opening and closing titles, which were important for sharing on social media channels to heighten awareness for University Of WA, Pursue Impossible, and the contest. An entertaining video on the landing page explained the idea quickly. And, to set the tone and inspire entrants, we created 3 example pitch videos. The entry mechanism allowed entrants to share their videos to social media at the same time they entered, helping the campaign spread with a limited budget.
The competition explainer video.
Some example videos.
One important strategy for increasing word-of-mouth for the Course Of The Future contest and UWA was to encourage social sharing at every opportunity. Part of the contest was a minor prize for People's Choice based on online votes for each pitch. Entrants had the opportunity to encourage friends to watch their video and vote.
A rich media EDM email about the contest was also emailed to the UWA database of prospective students to activate interest and social sharing. Mailing lists for overseas school agencies were also utilised.
The contest was also supported through paid digital media including targeted banner ads, pre-roll advertising on YouTube and other platforms, plus some paid Facebook advertising.
As part of the project, press releases were written about the UWA Pitch The Course Of The Future to generate more awareness and value for money.The story was picked up by the TV news networks, The West Australian newspaper, community newspapers, and radio stations.
The contest was a resounding success, receiving 225 entries from 16 countries, with the publicity and social media reach putting UWA high on the consideration list. Due to Western Australian primary schools changing enrolment dates for Year One students 12 years prior, 2015 was predicted to be a dismal year for all WA tertiary institutions due to there being a split cohort of school leavers. But UWA picked up the short-fall with enrolments from overseas students. The 2015 net intake was 24,294 enrolments. The University of Western Australia received the 2016 Brand Excellence Award at the Australian Business Awards for the development and implementation of their new marketing strategy.