George Brown hopes Toronto is as big a draw for students as its programs

To reverse enrollment trends, the college doubled its ad spend and enlisted No Fixed Address as its AOR to create a message about "real world learning."
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George Brown College is drawing upon the experiences its practical programs offer, as well as the cultural vibrancy of Toronto, to draw in students who have been reassessing their priorities during the pandemic.

The institution’s latest campaign “A Class of Your Own” is a lively ride through some of its course offerings and shows real world experience linked to its business, travel and hospitality, ECE and engineering tech programs, with an aim to attract perspective students “with a thing for downtown Toronto.”

Amidst a shifting pedagogical landscape and a pivot to virtual learning options, the college is looking to convey its positioning and demonstrate its value beyond the classroom experience, which includes the city it is based in as much as it does “real world learning.”

“Prospective students have never been so inundated with information and options when it comes to making decisions about their post-secondary education making it incredibly challenging to evaluate and determine the best fit,” says Sumi Shan, director of marketing, George Brown College.

“We’ve done a lot around ‘real world learning’ in previous campaigns as well, and it’s something we’re really good at,” she says, as students are actively seeking practical experiences and that it’s addressing these with a number of industry partners.

Shan tells strategy George Brown is addressing a challenge not unique to the institution: declining enrollment. She says it wants to be a top post-secondary choice, based on diversity of people and programs, and to offer a sense of belonging to perspective students, whether they’re domestic or international, based in part on the vibrancy of the city itself.

“In downtown Toronto, we’re close to the financial and business district, and some of the best chefs and restaurants in the world,” she says.

According to Shan, it’s got a sizable number of international students, and there is opportunity to increase its offerings and share in this space as well, as it hasn’t done as much outreach to that group with past efforts.

The campaign was created by No Fixed Address, which the school picked as its new AOR in the fall after an RFP process (incumbent agency Cleansheet decline to participate). NFA was tasked with the development of a new creative platform and a mandate that includes all strategic planning and creative development across both mass and digital channels.

“We’ve doubled our ad spend,” Shan says, and that it acknowledges the importance of marketing to connect across multiple channels, such as TikTok.

No Fixed Address, which recently announced it had hired two new co COOs, managed campaign strategy, creative and content development. The campaign will live across OLV, social, digital, OOH and print and includes adapts in several different languages to reflect the diversity found within Toronto, such as Mandarin, Portuguese and Vietnamese.

Media Experts handled the buy side/OOH of the campaign. Aver Group does the digital media. KPW Communications assisted with the multicultural outreach.

An earlier version of this story stated that Cleansheet participated in the RFP process. strategy regrets the error.