Brandman University Do Better Campaign

Client: Brandman University
Agency: Dentsu America
Creative Directors: Brad Gantt, Gary Larsen
Senior Copywriter: Ben Thompson

How do you position, brand and advertise a new university that wants to be the Harvard of night schools—but wants to grab leads with direct response television ads?

Very, very carefully. Think about it: do you see a lot of Harvard ads during Jerry Springer? Between bad, come-on advertising and the steady infusion of taxpayer dollars that have underwritten an explosion in shady, for-profit “colleges,” adult education is one seriously tainted category.

To its credit, Brandman has some very distinct advantages. They’re a non-profit, so they’re not driven by shareholder value and CEO bonuses. They’re the offspring of Chapman University in Orange, which is a solid pedigree.

Above all, they actually care about their student. They provide one-on-one academic coaching, and they can can prove they do a better job helping students. The odds that a Brandman student will graduate are TWICE as high as a student at the University of Phoenix. And, unlike Phoenix, most employers won’t throw your resume in the trash if they see Brandman University on it.

But still… direct response television advertising is essentially poison to a legitimate educational brand (an opinion seconded by focus groups). If you’re on during Judge Judy, you can’t possibly be a serious institution of higher learning.

Unless, you can bend the media buy to your will and use it to establish exactly how unique you really are. And that is what we did.

First, we established a clear strategy for the brand: the only university relentlessly dedicated to student success. From that we built a tagline that could work as an aspiration for the brand and the consumer: “Do Better.”

Second, we developed a series of stories—precise, factual case studies—of how Brandman actively and creatively helps students, and our larger society, “do better.” From helping teachers train for children with autism to helping veterans transition from battle, people truly do better because of Brandman’s work.

Creatively, we worked very hard to make sure the spots stood out from the competition. No laundry lists of degrees, no talking heads telling you to get up off that couch. Just clear, compelling stories that together conveyed the breadth and depth of Brandman’s good work.

Oh… and telephone numbers. URL’s, too. And a clear call to action at the end. Even though we were aiming high, we grounded the spots in the one outcome that mattered most for the client: leads. After all, we were making direct response ads.

Finally, we extended that logic across every media, from broadcast to out of home, print collateral and interactive.

And it worked. Inquiries spiked by a factor of TEN while the ads ran locally. They pulled big numbers on Hulu and Pandora which our savvy digital media team capitalized on with a very successful retargeting effort.

Why did it work? See for yourself.

Brandman University Autism :30








Brandman University Autism :30

Brandman University Graduation Rates







Brandman University Graduation :30


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