Ad campaign converts downtown bus stops into virtual campuses
Forget campus tours — interactive advertisements now give the public a glimpse of Loyola from bus stations across Chicago. With the tap of a screen, a time-lapse video in the stations shows off Loyola’s campuses.
These advertisements, known as innovative bus shelters, were made to showcase Loyola’s undergraduate experience and highlight improvements made to campus, according to Katie Hession, associate vice president of University Marketing and Communication (UMC).
“The idea is to showcase Loyola,” Hession said. “If I can showcase Loyola to someone at a bus shelter [and] that entices them to pay a visit in person, then that bus shelter has done its job. That’s the ultimate goal.”
The advertising campaign targets several audiences: prospective students, employers in Chicago, alumni and everyone walking around the city.
The Loyola bus shelters are located at five downtown intersections: the corners of Washington Street and LaSalle Street, Madison Street and Clark Street, Wacker Drive and State Street, Dearborne Street and Marina City, and Clark Street and Division Street.
At the bus shelter on the intersection of Wacker Drive and State Street, a video displays footage of buildings on Loyola’s Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses. The inside of the shelter features an photograph of Lake Michigan that reads, “It’s Cooler by the Lake.”
Stephanie McCormick, a DePaul alumni who works in advertising and web design, happened to be looking at one of Loyola’s ads at the Wacker Drive and State Street.
She said the advertisement was missing certain elements that she would have expected from a university campaign.
“I didn’t notice it originally because … it’s not in Loyola colors,” McCormick said. “I think tying to their traditional color scheme would catch the eye.”
Differences in Loyola’s campus did catch McCormick’s attention, though.
“Now, looking at it, it’s obviously the Lake Shore Campus. It’s changed quite a bit from what I remember — and I live on the North Side,” she said.
According to McCormick, eye-capturing moveable elements — such as Loyola’s interactive videos — make ads particularly effective. She added that Loyola and DePaul are the two schools from which she usually sees advertisements.
Loyola also has plans to place ads in O’Hare and Midway airports to attract professional business travelers who may be thinking about returning to school.
According to Hession, last year’s ad campaign focused heavily on sustainability. This year, the university seeks to continue distinguishing itself by displaying what Loyola stands for, what a Jesuit education means and where the university is located.
“We have Northwestern and UChicago in our backyard,” Hession said. “It is critical to get Loyola’s name out there because we want the best students, best faculty and best staff. We want to bring interest to community businesses and leaders.”
The university’s marketing objectives also include convincing employers that Loyola students are quality candidates for internships and jobs, making Loyola alumni feel proud of their education and encouraging those alumni to give back to the university.
According to senior Haley Ktsanes, Loyola’s strong presence in the market and its efforts to appeal to prospective students could be beneficial to the university.
“I think it sounds like a good thing because we’ll be able to tell more people about what Loyola’s doing,” said the 21-year-old nursing major. “Maybe we’ll get a more diverse group of students. I think it’s good that it seems like the school is growing.”
To other students, the advertising strategy seems to lack potential.
“It’s a nice effort, but I think that a lot of times when schools advertise — for my generation, at least — it comes off with the connotation of online colleges. That’s not bad, but it’s not the college experience,” said 19-year-old sophomore Karolyn Stromdahl, an elementary education major.
Paul Roberts, Loyola’s associate provost for enrollment management, said UMC and enrollment management work together closely on many of their projects.
“UMC focuses more on branding efforts; enrollment management focuses more on getting students to respond and developing communication with prospective students. [Enrollment management is] responsible for all of the direct response advertisements that the university does,” Roberts said.
Every fall, UMC develops a plan to shape and uphold Loyola’s reputation in Chicago. The team devotes the rest of the year to writing radio scripts, and designing print and online ads — serving as an in-house agency for the entire university, according to Hession.
“The UMC group creates all of the creative artwork that we use in our direct response advertisements,” Roberts confirmed. “If we’re going to place an ad in a newspaper, enrollment management makes the decision on placement, and [UMC] does the artwork.”
In the past, the groups have partnered to run advertisements targeting states in the Midwest such as Missouri, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan, which bring in a significant portion of undergraduate students.
However, out-of-state ads are not currently running because of the expense, according to Hession. She said Chicago — a hub for both tourists and professionals — is a useful market for advertising.
Roberts added most students who enroll at Loyola will come from the surrounding area that is currently being targeted.
“The vast majority of our students would be coming from the Chicago metro area,” Roberts said. “While we recruit students from other markets, this would be our primary market.”
Though she could not disclose the advertising budget for competitive reasons, Hession confirmed that it has been reduced by 25 percent within the past five years.
Unlike other universities in the area that use external advertising agencies, UMC does its advertising in-house to lower costs, according to Hession.
“It may look like we’re in the market heavily, but we’re not, compared to Northwestern and UChicago — even Notre Dame. Our dollars don’t even compare to the dollars that other schools spend,” Hession said. “It might look like a lot, but that is because we use a lot of different channels.”