Oregon's Bid To Attract Its 'Next Class of Innovators'

There's a lot of competition among colleges and universities to get on the consideration set of prospective students. They’ve got to break through the clutter, pique attention and connect with students in relevant and meaningful ways. Prospective students are looking for the full college experience and want to join an engaged community that provides a breadth of opportunities. 

This year, the University of Oregon (UO) teamed with branding agency 160over90 to develop interactive admission material to encourage students to attend.  

The 160over90 Newport Beach team developed three activations spanning the search and yield phases of the higher education cycle, targeting high-school students at the beginning of their search process for the right university, as well as accepted students at the end of the enrollment funnel.

First, to spark interest, UO sent out 19,700 customized decks of cards titled The Answer Pack. This kit provided answers to questions about the university’s unique offerings, history and achievements.  

Once students sent in applications, UO mailed 14,500 packages featuring a personalized Oregon car flag and poster, welcoming these applicants to the class of 2019. With directions to a microsite—plantmyflag.com—students could virtually 'plant their flag' at UO and share the news with friends on social media. This element sparked viral buzz, with many students tweeting about their experience.  

Finally, to help entice prospective students to enroll, the UO sent out ‘A Duck Like These’ kits that featured success stories of young alumni who had recently graduated and started interesting careers. This piece was designed to capture the return-on-investment that students will achieve by showcasing successful alumni, including those just one year out and up to 30 years out. 

Collectively, this initiative was less about driving enrollment numbers and more about attracting the right type of student, says Megan Pomplas, managing director, 160over90. "UO was founded on experimentation, innovation and collaboration, and is looking for its next class of innovators. Students who are willing to experiment and eager to explore, and that understand the critical role that a university education plays in their future career aspirations. Each of the resulting pieces – the Answer Pack, the Acceptance piece and Duck Like These – had to authentically express that exploratory culture and invite inquiry."

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