5. Smith Roberts makes community college look cool

14 Oct

Centennial College, a community college in Toronto, came to Smith Roberts to create their new print and outdoor campaign that would actually relate to high school students. What they came up with was different than anything I have ever seen.

A typical ad for a secondary school looks finished and professional. They usually include a racially-diverse group of students in a library or in a cap and gown, always smiling and laughing. These types of ads draw a certain kind of student. They attract high school grads who know exactly what they want to do with their life, students who may want to work a 9 to 5 job, or who want the typical, idealized college experience. This works for some college applicants, but what about the students who don’t fit into this cookie cutter image? As stated by Rosanna Cavallaro, the college’s associate vice-president of marketing,

“We know kids all have limitless potential, but we’re trying to target younger teens who may be intimidated by the traditional images of post-secondary students in business suits.”

When Smith Roberts was given the Centennial College account they wanted to reach out to a different audience. Their goal is to attract the “real” high school kids who may not think college is for them. They celebrate the imperfections and uniqueness of young people in an attempt to let them know that Centennial recognizes the limitless potential beneath their scruffy surface. These ads are perfectly imperfect and would challenge any teen who thinks college is not for them.

“Kids are kids, these are their faces and these are also the individuals who could be your boss one day – so it doesn’t affect us if they arrive with funny hair or tattoos,” said Rosanna Cavallaro.

My only qualm with this campaign is that they do rely heavily on stereotypes. They assume that students who may attend community colleges are lazy, distracted and unusual. This may be the case for some applicants, but many are considering a school like Centennial College for financial or geographical reasons.

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