Northumberland College

School leavers campaign

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Northumberland College is a General FE college serving the most sparsely populated county in the country, with traditional industries in the wider rural area of farming and tourism and formerly mining in the urban south-east.

Northumberland College’s vision is to become an exceptional college and an inspirational place to learn and work. Our creative input needed to accentuate that the college is welcoming and genuinely enthusiastic about embracing change that ensures success for its customers.

They wanted a high impact, creative campaign which stood out in the market, addressing a number of strategic priorities which aimed to make them the college of choice for students in Northumberland.

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The target market

We targeted 1300 learners ages 16-18 enrolling between January and September.

The “Can’t stop doing it?” campaign was rolled out across the Tyne Tees region using various media including online, print, outdoor advertising and radio.

We created a variety of scenarios

We created a variety of scenarios

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The concept

The scenarios were rolled out across a range of media

The concept behind the campaign had a surreal, unusual and humourous look based upon uncontrollable enthusiasm.

It used strong imagery to attract attention and presents the college as somewhere for students to fulfil their potential.

The materials that we produced had a direct and viral impact while presenting a wide range of courses.

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Outdoor Advertising

The bus advertising

A package of advertising was purchased on bus services that gave a maximum coverage in Northumberland towns and villages where the college traditionally recruits.

The bus selected services also covered parts of Newcastle and North Tyneside – areas where the college does attract some travelling students from.

A series of posters were produced to advertise the open events. Each featured a still image from the campaign creative and had tear-off slips detailing open event dates and times, which people could tear off and take away with them.The first set of posters were distributed to all high schools, Connexions offices and other community outlets including libraries and community centres in February and the second set were distributed in April.

Printed banner adverts were also featured in the local press and in mediums targeting 16-18 years olds.

The banner advertising

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Film Media

The advert for land based courses

Two films were concepted and created; one with a construction scenario and the other with a travel and tourism scenario.

They were featured on the college website, their new Facebook page, and during an extensive cinema advertising campaign creating greater awareness through online analytics.

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Radio advertising

The advert for photography courses

Radio adverts were broadcast on Galaxy North East on the days leading up to each open event.

Galaxy was chosen as a local commercial station popular with the younger age group, with a reach of 67,000 16-19 year olds (RAJAR Q3 2008). The adverts followed the campaign’s creative and were themed to coincide with the dedicated curriculum open events, with scenarios including a girl answering the phone at home in the style of a PA and a girl acting like a sous-chef in the kitchen with her mum.


We also made specific adverts for sport and leisure, art and design, early years, business and IT, construction, land based cateringhair and beauty and travel and tourism courses.

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Mobile Marketing

The new college website includes data capture and SMS messaging capability, so we used email and SMS to promote open events to would-be applicants who had left contact details via the website.

More than 1,150 users subscribed for text alerts via the website. We were also able to measure impact of marketing with coded inbound SMS.

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Social Media

Northumberland College's Facebook page

To coincide with the campaign launch we created the college’s first social networking page on Facebook. The new Facebook page had 125 fans within a few months of launch and we have evidence it has directly led to enrolments via feedback by tutors. It included news on student and staff successes, events, enrolment days, news and international visits.

Social networking sites offer a highly cost effective way of promoting enrolment opportunities, linking in to your main website, and potentially saving a great of expenditure on advertising and printing costs.

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Supporting Literature

A summer course guide was produced that was mainly aimed at the 19+ market, but with an eye to additional 14-19 recruitment. The guide was sent out to nearly 100,000 properties via door drops and inserts in local newspapers. Postcode areas to target were chosen based on an analysis of the top 50 postcode destinations for current learners at the college.

We also created a course prospectus based around the campaign which included bespoke student based photography.

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The resulting increase in footfall was way ahead of expectations.

By comparing the number of student visitors to the events with previous campaign attendance was up by 88%.

Analysis of the website shows a big peak in unique visitors to coincide with the launch of campaign marketing activity – a jump of 60%.

Overall open event attendance was up 35% and the number of course applications by 16-18 year olds was up by 10% from 2,255 to 2,480.

The number of offers made was up by 19.8% from 1,112 to 1,332.

The campaign was also highly commended at the National College Marketing Network FE First Awards.



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