The direct-response TV ads, breaking in seven markets next month on daytime broadcast and cable TV, feature Westwood grads narrating the path that took them from dead-end jobs to satisfying careers.
Periods of recession and high unemployment mean that consumers are more receptive to going back to school, says Russ Natoce, Westwood's CMO. "We didn't set out to create a humorous campaign. This came out of a lot of hard work with Cactus, our ad agency -- we kept hearing people say 'I got out of high school, and have gone from job to job. But I'm not as competitive in the world as I'd like to be. What I really want is to change my life -- I want a career I can be proud of, not just a job.'"
Currently, Westwood -- which offers three-year bachelor degrees in design, justice, technology, healthcare and business and also offers online options -- has about 16,000 students enrolled, and hopes to gradually increase. "What's different about us is support services. We know that successfully adapting to college -- especially for people who have been away from school a little while -- means successfully adapting to the first term. So if students miss a class, we're on the phone. We even offer free tutoring."
And while marketing efforts in the field have typically been pretty pedestrian, Natoce says some of Westwood's competitors are bringing attention to the career-college category. "DeVry University had done a good job, by showing a lot of the recent grads, and I like Kaplan University's new work, which asks if education is really providing what it should," he says. "We think of ourselves as college, reinvented."