Grinnell College is a top-tier four-year liberal arts college, located in rural Iowa about an hour from Des Moines. With roughly 1,700 students, Grinnellians are committed to contributing to the common good and are consistently ranked among the nation’s best liberal arts colleges.
When it comes to marketing campaigns, it goes without saying that the digital landscape is noisy, crowded, and over-run with repetitive messages. Colleges and universities need to keep in mind that Gen Zers are products of this era—aka masters of sniffing out marketing spin and skipping ads quickly.
You’ve got to capture attention fast, while getting a message in. Disrupt their scroll without being bothersome. Inspire action without being too pushy. Sometimes that can happen with one ad. We knew Grinnellians would crave more to the story.
After building their strong master brand for a number of years, we knew they needed a media campaign as thoughtful, adaptable, and wicked-smart as the potential Grinnellians out in the world. Over several years we partnered with Grinnell College to create a layered, data-driven approach, responsive media campaign that would not only boost their reputation and awareness—but yield strong admissions results along the way.
With great data comes great responsibility. We used the insights and performance testing to make the users feel heard, but not creeped on. By optimizing our creative along the way, we’re able to modify our messaging based on what’s performing well. This allows us to personalize the message and figure out what ads to curate next. Letting them lead the journey completely. Giving them somewhere to go.
After a complete branded website refresh, we had the perfect place to send our users to upon clicking through.
Despite a stellar reputation, Grinnell found itself on the consideration lists of fewer and fewer students, and the school was struggling to get prospects to visit campus. Facing increased competition from more geographically accessible peers, the college could no longer lean on reputation alone. And without a compelling brand story, Grinnell needed to find a way to stand out and stand apart.
Through dozens of interviews, several campus visits, and more research, we helped Grinnell uncover a story of place and mindset. With a culture of fierce inquiry, a tradition of social justice, and an authentically global perspective, Grinnell attracts a truly singular type of student — which we christened the Grinnellian. By exploring the nature of these Grinnellians through their experiences on campus and off, the college’s brand took form: first in a comprehensive suite of recruitment and admissions materials, and then through a multi-platform marketing campaign reaching influencers, peers, and prospects.