Isenberg goes big in Boston: A look at the recent out-of-home campaign for our longtime higher-ed client.

Isenberg goes big in Boston: A look at the recent out-of-home campaign for our longtime higher-ed client.

Author: Forge Team

29 January 2019

Bold Leaders Don’t Fear Change. They Drive It.

That was the battle cry under which our winter ’19 campaign for the Isenberg School of Management at UMASS Amherst took over downtown Boston.

Located in the picturesque Pioneer Valley, Isenberg has been steadily rising in the ranks as one of the top business schools not only in the state but the country and the world. And much like their parent school, they have a perception challenge. Though they feed a huge number of graduates into the business workforce in Boston, they still don’t get the name recognition that other hub schools like Babson, Bentley, and Boston University’s Questrom get.

This Wasn’t Our First Higher-Ed Rodeo.

Isenberg turned to us as a partner in creating an attention-grabbing campaign that would speak to business leaders in the city and impress upon them the presence and strength of their graduates. By bringing together the experience of our previous campaigns with Isenberg, along with insights from a number of ethnographic research projects, we had a pretty good idea for a strategy that would work as hard for us as Isenberg’s driven alumni do in the business world.

Shrewd Business Minds. Shrewder Media Placements.

When choosing to launch a higher ed campaign, especially in the Boston market, it can be tough to get attention. So, we launched the campaign in January, when most competitors were winding down on their promotions, and the types of high-profile out-of-home media placements we wanted would work with our budget. Building on a strategy that started with our Back Bay Station spectacular in 2016, we designed the campaign to catch Boston business leaders on their commutes, going in and out of the office, and even at their desks. To wit, we bought video screens in train stations and 60 solar kiosks on streets all over the city. We also secured billboard space inbound on the Mass pike and a series of newspaper ads in the Boston Business Journal and Boston Globe. Everywhere business people traveled they would be met with messaging from Isenberg.

Driving Themselves. Driving Success.

Now we were ready to tell the story of Isenberg’s alumni, and the best way to do that was to get out of the way and let the alumni’s stories tell themselves. Building on the work we did last year (which featured alumni from different industries coming together under their common “drive”), we worked closely with our clients to identify compelling alumni to feature in our advertisements. These individuals came from all over the business world, and included an executive at the NBA (Li Li Leung, MBA/MS), a change manager at Mass Mutual (Michele Equale, MBA), and a partner at EY (Tony Jordan, BBS). We shot their portraits in epic style and created larger than life poster-style ads that stood out in the environment and quickly telegraphed these individuals’ contribution to the business world, often in Boston. They served not just as statements but as proof that Isenberg alumni are up to par with those of any other business school.

Behind Every Successful Campaign is a Successful Partnership.

Overall this campaign has been our most visible partnership with Isenberg to date, but it couldn’t have happened without countless hours of groundwork and research, including a deep qualitative study and mobile ethnography of actual students that helped Isenberg identify student expectations and perceptions giving us valuable insights into their decision-making process. It’s through these shared endeavors that we’ve developed a partnership with Isenberg built on honesty and trust that’s dedicated to moving applicants to the school and moving Isenberg up the ranks, both numbers that are undeniable.

Read the case study to learn more about our work with the Isenberg School of Management.