Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Soo far away from Toronto

My dad is from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and we have a cottage there (sorry, "camp") that we go to every year, so I'm always partial to news from the Soo.

So it was that I stumbled across this controversial campaign for recruiting Toronto students to enroll at Algoma University, based simply on the fact that it's so far away from home:

According to Soo Today, the Algoma U student union has received complaints from students and faculty, and are "calling for the advertising campaign to be replaced with a positive campaign reflecting the many positive geographical and institutional attributes that are marketed more extensively in Northern Ontario."

In other words, while Algoma U is promoting "Academic Excellence Focused on You" to northerners, its appeal to Southern Ontario students is being portrayed as just getting several hundred clicks the hell away from the parents.

In my opinion (and I've done a lot of enrollment advertising) the creative is eye-catching and somewhat insightful. It's the strategy that is all wrong. When all you're using to differentiate yourself from local schools is distance down the highway, you're competing with every other school a day or more away.

Compare this with what Carleton is doing to attract Totonto students, with their "anything but textbook" campaign.

Sure, some students just want to leave home far behind them for personal reasons, but that's not enough reason to choose your school out of many options. You have to be different, and special.

I love the Soo. Best Italian-Canadian food in the country, and a great place to enjoy the beauty of Ontario's northland. Add to that a friendly city and some unique academic experiences, and you might just have a USP...

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