Why Curtin University launched a new campaign during the Covid crisis

Despite being hit by the pandemic, Curtin University has launched an ambition new campaign around the theme of change

Jess Bush, who is featured in the new Telstra brand campaign
Jess Bush, who is featured in the new Telstra brand campaign
  • Jess Bush, who is featured in the new Telstra brand campaign
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Curtin University has recently launched its first major brand campaign in more than five years, ‘Change is Here’, an integrated campaign created by AnalogFolk Sydney. The campaign taps into young people’s desire to see real change in a world now defined by unprecedented uncertainty, and will run across TV, radio, outdoor, digital and social.  

The new campaign is geared toward capturing the university’s core purpose of supporting students to make a real difference, and aims to raise the profile of the university with potential students keen on making positive change in the world

Curtin University director, brand and marketing, Kate Jennings, told CMO the university first saw the early signs of a weakening profile through its annual brand health monitoring in 2019, with significant drops in brand awareness and preference for Curtin among key WA audiences. “We presented a pretty compelling business case to our senior executive in early 2020 and thankfully they made the decision to invest in the new campaign,” said Jennings.

“We presented a pretty compelling business case to our senior executive in early 2020 and thankfully they made the decision to invest in the new campaign."

Curtin worked with its agencies, AnalogFolk and Longreach, to develop a strategy to reach the audience. “We invested a lot of time during the second half of 2019 discussing our brand DNA, understanding the market and audience sentiment among high school students and tapping into media consumption research,” Jennings explained.

“We could see clearly through the available youth sentiment research that younger generations are faced with incredible stress and anxiety about the state of the world, and what their future holds. These worries are further intensified for Year 12 students dealing with the pressures of ATAR and, this year, the impacts of COVID-19,” she continued.

These insights drove Curtin to make sure the campaign message was optimistic and hopeful, but also grounded in reality, highlighting real solutions through research and study at Curtin that are already having a positive impact in the world.

“When the team presented the idea ‘Change is here’, we were really excited by it. It’s such a strong fit for Curtin, given our values and our DNA – we are known for creativity and innovation, for being a place that brings people together to make things happen,” she said.  

Covid challenges


Enjoying the largest market share of domestic undergraduates in WA for many years, with well over 50 per cent of first preferences, this year has been a difficult one. COVID-19 has changed the game for all universities in many ways, putting at risk international student numbers and intensifying local and national competition for domestic students.  

Jennings told CMO, in the early part of 2020, it had to pause and focus on moving the marketing operations, support the critical communication to the Curtin students and community and re-think the existing programs we would normally be rolling out to attract students for 2021. “The idea for the campaign was developed and approved pre-COVID, so yes, the pandemic had a massive impact on our plans to launch,” she said.

“When we were able to move into further concept creation and production, we had to navigate the realities of COVID on interstate travel. Thankfully they were able to secure a large crew in Perth to support the filming here, combined with additional film production and CGI in Sydney to create a beautiful ad that delivered the right message and tone.”

The campaign was developed to help strengthen Curtin’s future brand position and drive strong, distinctive and motivating perceptions of the university into the future. “We plan for it to run in WA over the next few years, to reinforce and support our ongoing product and prospective student marketing. We will also work our global campus partners to find ways to extend the idea into our international markets, where we believe it will resonate strongly too,” Jennings said.

 In terms of its wider marketing strategy, the focused is on strengthening its competitive position, growing market share and enrolments in the domestic WA market. “At the same time, continuing to build our profile as a global university, expanding international enrolments both in Australia and through our offshore campuses, in selected markets, through clearly differentiated program offerings and experiences,” she said.

Jennings said the university strives to put its brand message, of positive change, into practice through its processes that feed into its broader messaging. “We believe that people who bring ideas to reality can make the world a better place,” she said.  

“We work closely with government and industry, and help our students become effective graduates who can make a real difference to society. We look for people who share Curtin’s ambition to create a better future. People who are innovative, creative and persistent, who are willing to try new things and are not afraid of failure. These are the people who will make tomorrow better.”

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