Drake University Recruitment Brochure Design Catches Students And Faculty By Surprise

September 7, 2010

Two young women looking at computer screen in amazementIn an effort to distinguish itself in a sea of bland college-marketing brochures filled with candid snapshots of laughing students, Drake University designed a new logo that has created quite a buzz on the Internet.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the school's new undergraduate recruitment campaign, called "The Drake Advantage", uses a big "D+" logo on the front of its brochure. According to Inside Higher Ed, the logo has sparked criticism and jokes about the types of students that Drake is targeting. At first glance, a lot of people are reminded of a report card with a bad grade, perhaps suggesting that Drake is the school for "subpar students".

Despite some negative reactions, however, Drake stands by its campaign. The Chronicle of Higher Education stated that the school's admissions website read: "When we talk about D+, that's what we mean. Every moment at Drake is one that has the power to educate, to transform, to open minds and to unleash potential--to introduce who you are, to who you hope to become." According to The Awl, an internal e-mail sent to Drake University faculty and staff called the campaign "intentionally edgy". Furthermore, the logo was meant to be part of an equation: "The D+ was not designed to stand alone or represent a grade. Instead, it was designed to be paired with prose and draw attention to the distinctive advantages of the Drake experience," added Inside Higher Ed.

Fritz McDonald, vice president of creative strategy at Stamats Higher Education Marketing, the marketing firm that designed the campaign, explained that high school students had reviewed the campaign before it was launched and had a positive response. An online survey of 921 students showed that more than three-quarters said the viewbook grabbed their attention either a little or a lot. Furthermore, nearly 90 percent of respondents said the concept was unlike any other college materials they had seen. "I'm not surprised by the buzz. Our intended audience loves it," said Tom Delahunt, vice president of admission and student financial planning. "The 15-to 17-year-olds think it's great."

Jim Paskill, a higher education marketing consultant, said, "This certainly has a lot of negative connotations you can associate with it. It's that first impression [that matters]. What's the first thing that comes to mind? It's an academic grade, and not a very good one."

Welcome buzz or not, Drake University definitely found a unique way to stand out and the school seems to have no intention of abandoning its "edgy" new look. "Generally speaking, I think the students that are going to be completely put off by this are probably the students Drake doesn't want," said McDonald to Inside Higher Ed.

Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff


"Did Drake's Ad Campaign Give Itself a Near-Failing Grade?," chronicle.com, September 2, 2010

"Does Drake Ad Pass?," insidehighered.com, September 3, 2010, Jack Stripling

"Drake University's New Ad Campaign: It's a Big D+," theawl.com, September 2, 2010, Katjusa Cisar

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