Higher Education Monthly
What does cereal have to do with marketing a college?
I have long noticed that breakfast cereal advertising has, for as long as I can recall, made the assumption that every child (or parent for that matter) is obsessed with sport, or will respond to stories and imagery of kids playing football, surfing, riding stunt bikes, or being an Iron Man. The default narrative for this type of product (if not based on a cute character) is: eat this healthy breakfast, and you will kill it on the sport field.
The reason I’ve noticed this since I was a child is that these are images and narratives that are lost on me, and as the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, the same can be said for my kids.
Why? Guess what… not everyone is into sport… even here in Australia.
I get it. Healthy eating = health body. But can’t we dig deeper?
Then just last week a TV commercial for Uncle Tobys Oats came on, and featured a teenager who produces EDM (electronic dance music) telling his tale of a healthy breakfast helping him, via a healthy mind, to work on his art to his greatest ability. It’s as though suddenly somebody in cereal advertising finally actually asked the users of their product how they saw themselves and the product, rather than making a variation of previous ads for ever other similar product we have all become used to seeing.
What does this have to do with marketing a college?
The same can be said for a huge number of colleges around the country. It’s so easy, and seemingly natural, to look at how your own college (not to mention every other college) has marketed itself for decades, and build on that. But you can do better.
Put it this way: using clichéd phrases like “global citizens” or “well rounded student experience”, or homogeneous ideals like the head of college knowing everyone by name is the equivalent of a cricket player saying cereal is good for you — it doesn’t necessarily make your college look bad, but it certainly doesn’t make you look any different to every other college on campus.
If you take the time to find out what your students think about their college, themselves, your competitors and everything else that matters, your marketing can suddenly become fine tuned and targeted to not only the type of resident you want, but the type of resident that actually belongs at your college, and not next door. Otherwise you’re casting a net hoping to catch whoever happens to be swimming by at the time.
If you’d like to dig deeper than selling cereal with sport stars, we can help.
Find out more here.