Ryerson bets on being new school

The university's business school puts diversity at the heart of a campaign fighting its MBA program's underdog rep.

Do future MBAs value old-school competition or new-school collaboration most?

Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management is weighing on the latter with a new campaign that embraces one of the business school’s perceived weaknesses: its lack of old boy networks.

The goal of its “Not An Old Boy” campaign is to leverage the university’s reputation as a young, diverse institution with a relatively inexpensive MBA program. The campaign’s creative projects the school as having networks that “are bolder and more open and collaborative” than other schools’.

The concept of new networks also connotes diversity and inclusiveness. In one of two video spots currently in-market (more will be made available in the future), MBA student Sara Mohammed explains that the program appealed to her because of its diversity. In a press release, she adds that the campaign “embodies TRSM’s open, accepting, and non-elitist nature.”

Although “Not an Old Boy” positions new networks as Ryerson’s strength, the reality is many students have gravitated to MBA programs precisely for their old boy networks. The trick for TRSM, then, explains Bob Ramsay of Ramsay, Inc., who developed the campaign in collaboration with Paul Haslip of HM&E Design, was to create “a classic underdog campaign for an organization that is, in fact, not an underdog.”

Ted Rogers has been ranked one of Canada’s top ten business schools by Canadian Business since 2013, and its MBA program costs about a third of many other schools’.

In Canada, the space has become extremely competitive, as other types of certificates and experiences (think project management certification) have become available in addition to MBA programs, says Paul Cantin, director of marketing and communication at TRSM. The sector also faces competition from online courses offered as a much cheaper alternative.

Cantin says the school considers millennials in the 23 to 28 age bracket as its core audience for the campaign. It isn’t targeting individuals with any specific academic or work experience, because many students and professionals can profit from an MBA.