Having made the decision to go back to University next year to study my Masters, I could not help but notice the lack of innovation and creativity in University and TAFE advertising. Australia has some of the best higher education providers in the world; they deserve to have inspirational, eye catching advertising, and they need to step up and stop creating ads that are dull and predicable.
Going to university or TAFE is a serious decision. It is a decision often made by year 12 students or older people such as myself who want to learn new skills. Higher education is costly and completing a course requires time and effort. However the experience and opportunities that come after finishing a course can outweigh the costs.
Having bland and similar advertisements can lead to confusion over branding and may mean that capable students go elsewhere.
Most University and TAFE advertisements recently seem to have common elements, they use faces and have a tag line.
An example of this concept are the ads for Swinburne University, which this year seem to have taken to profiling their future students. From a wholesome young girl in a cardigan, to muscular confident looking young man in a black t shirt these individuals personify the Swinburne experience.
While the idea of personifying a higher education provider is not a bad strategy, it seems to be done by many different universities year after year.
Another concept that seems to dominate higher education advertising is the use of stock imagery or photos that could easily be sold as stock images. This makes ads seem generic and difficult to distinguish between one provider to another.
La Trobe University has been running an ad with a mature age student who was interested in town planning in Sri Lanka. This ad had an elephant in the background. This ad is quite poorly put together and looks like the combination of two stock images even though they have used a real student.
Higher education providers need to focus on determining what makes them unique and to distinguish themselves from other competitors. They should look more closely at who they want as their future students and create advertisements that reflect the experiences they seek to create.