See the TV Spot!

Amazing things are happening at Rensselaer. Landmark research. Breakthrough discoveries. Ideas that will impact industries around the globe for years to come.
   Of course, Rensselaer's commitment to innovation is no secret to our alumni, faculty, or students. Because they are part of it; they are making it happen. However, in the increasingly competitive arena of higher education—where you either stand out or stand back—the time has come to assert Rensselaer's leadership to a larger audience. The time has come to tell the world.
   In the summer of 1998, Rensselaer began laying the groundwork for an advertising campaign that would be the largest initiative of its kind in the history of the university. Today, that campaign is being launched in full force in national magazines and in TV spots around the country.
   One of the primary components of the ad campaign is a series of print ads, each featuring a recent research breakthrough or noteworthy program at Rensselaer. Using intriguing headlines and eye-grabbing photos, the ads are designed to stand out in high-profile magazines and newspapers around the country. In each of the ads, the copy briefly describes the projects and programs being highlighted and directs the reader to Rensselaer's Web site to learn more.
   Using a creative blend of regional placements, the print campaign will be running in key regions in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Sports Illustrated, and Time. The Rensselaer name will benefit by appearing in such well-respected publications—the perfect way to reach more informed, affluent audiences.
   Another key component of the advertising campaign is a 30-second television spot—a compelling, striking message so different in its tenor and imagery that it is sure to stand out from the cacophony of television advertising and create a lasting impression on viewers. The spot opens on a close-up view of the Earth, rendered in 3-D animation, rotating in space. As the shot widens, viewers see that the Earth is actually in the shape of a light bulb. The "bulb" fizzles out. Sound effects of a bulb being replaced. And it suddenly turns back on. During this action, the voice-over reads: "How many universities does it take to change the world? Just one." The Rensselaer logo and theme are revealed, and the viewer is directed to the Web site.
   The spots will be shown on cable television outlets in key regions. Cable advertising allows for more targeted media buying. By placing the ad on cable networks such as MSNBC, CNN, and CNBC we're guaranteed a better-educated, more affluent, and more influential marketplace. And we will be placed in programming that is appropriate to the level of Rensselaer's prestige.

Fighting for Attention

Higher education has become a business—a very competitive business. Rensselaer must compete aggressively against other institutions worldwide for research grants, resources, and, of course, top students and faculty. But competition can bring out one's best. That's the case with Rensselaer.
   All universities do some form of marketing. The objective is typically to encourage enrollment; the method is usually mailing printed pieces to a selected list of recipients. Rensselaer, however, is thinking quite a bit bigger than that. (So what else is new?) The marketing program will go beyond a simple enrollment message-it will redefine Rensselaer's position as a leading research university in the new global marketplace.
   More than a year ago, Rensselaer formed a Strategic Marketing Committee to determine how the university could strengthen its position in this aggressive educational environment. To get a sense of where Rensselaer stood, relative to other schools, the committee authorized a research study. Across the country, groups representing potential Rensselaer students, current students, alumni, and business people were brought together into focus groups. In a controlled environment, the participants were quizzed about the schools they had heard of and what their impressions were.
   The research unearthed critical information for Rensselaer. The good news was that among current students and alumni, Rensselaer got high marks, particularly for academic programs, research facilities, job placement record, and athletics. Despite a few somewhat negative comments (location and male/female ratio), people associated with Rensselaer generally had a very good opinion of the school.
   The bad news was that people not associated with the university did not have a strong impression of Rensselaer, one way or the other. "We found that Rensselaer didn't so much have an image problem as it had a lack of image," says Dan Dewine, president of Dewine Marketing Resources, the firm that conducted the surveys. "In a sense, for external audiences, often Rensselaer was starting from ground zero."

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