The challenge facing Algoma University was how to turn a perceived disadvantage – its distance from the major urban centres of Southern Ontario – into an advantage. The university, located in Sault Ste. Marie, a 10-hour drive north of Toronto, hired the agency McDonnell Haynes and the “distance campaign” was born.
The cheeky campaign matched images such as a Mohawk hairdo with the words: “Put 681 km between you and ‘Not while you live under my roof!’” The tagline, “Plan your escape,” directed students to the Algoma U website.
The campaign, running in the fall of 2009 and again in 2010, recently earned a CASSIE award for advertising proven to have delivered results. The proof: according to Algoma U’s director of advancement and external relations, Deborah Loosemore, the institution saw a 35 percent boost in applications for the 2010-2011 academic year and met its goal of a 10 percent increase in first-year enrolments. As well, the university recently learned that applications for next fall rose by 31 percent, the highest percentage increase among Ontario’s universities and the only double-digit increase in the province.