A $40 million makeover: DeVry retools image

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DeVry University has come a long way in the last 71 years from its technical-school roots, but public perception hasn't evolved with it.

DeVry, now an accredited university offering bachelor's and master's degrees in technology and business, this week embarks on a nearly $40 million national advertising campaign to build its image as well as its business.

"We want to further develop the DeVry University brand and more clearly articulate who we are and the scope of our offering," as well as increase enrollment and reach new audiences such as students interested in part-time or online programs, said John Skubiak, exec VP, DeVry.

Although DeVry previously did separate advertising for its undergraduate and graduate divisions, the integrated-marketing campaign from Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftWorldwide, Chicago, New York and Toronto, is the school's most concerted ad effort to date. DraftWorldwide won the account in April after a review. It was previously with Brown Marketing Communications, Chicago.

"We are approaching it in a more sophisticated way," Mr. Skubiak said, "and now the message is more holistic."

The cornerstone of the ad campaign is the direct-response TV effort launching this week with two 30-second spots running on local networks across the country and on the BET cable channel. Freestanding inserts in major metropolitan newspapers including business-reply cards also break this week, followed later this month by newspaper ads, four more TV executions, radio, direct mail and online advertising.

`Think ahead'

The campaign with the tagline "Think Ahead" targets two segments-"career launchers" who are just starting out and "career enhancers" who are looking to get ahead in their professions, said Dasher Lowe, exec VP-managing director, Draft.

Through one-on-one interviews with 500 current and prospective students, Draft determined the concept of "attainable security" resonated most. Because DeVry offers flexible programs-including full-time, part-time, evening, weekend and online classes-it is accessible to people with busy lives, said Kathy Bucaro-Zobens, Draft's senior exec VP-executive creative director.

The message is "not only has the university transformed, but now you as a potential student have a way to transform your life ... because it's very attainable," Ms. Bucaro-Zobens said. One TV ad urges, "Don't quit your day job. Make it better."

"They're never going to be the Harvard of the world, nor do they choose to be the Harvard. They look at themselves as more of an approachable university," Mr. Lowe said.

DeVry operates 25 campuses in the U.S. and Canada designed for full-time students and 35 university centers offering accelerated programs for working adults, as well as online degree programs.

"The misperception is that DeVry was simply a technical institute," Mr. Skubiak said. "We believe that DeVry University can better communicate the broader university system that we have become."

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