When I first heard about Drake University‘s D+ campaign I had the same reaction as the The Awl and Adweek bloggers who ripped the campaign for aligning a really poor grade as the brand identity of the University. Drake got a lot of unanticipated publicity from this campaign. But before you ask “what were they thinking,” let’s look at who the campaign targeted and how if fared.
They designed the campaign to increase interest from high school students in attending Drake University. They ran the edgy campaign as a direct mail piece to high school students with the intention to first get their attention (good idea) and then deliver an effective message. By all accounts, it worked. Campus visits during the summer were up 23% over the previous year.
By survey and by results, the campaign attracted the target market. The fact that some over-wrought bloggers did not like it just got the University even more publicity … and some quick apologies from the administration to faculty and alumni for running the campaign without explaining it to them. In the famous words of Ricky Ricardo, “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do,” and they did.
If you are the client it’s not about awards it’s about results. The sooner agencies figure that out, the better off clients will be. Who is your target market, and how are you or your company going to stand out in THEIR minds?