Stay ahead: be white, male and Anglo.


The first in a series of analyses, trying to understand advertising by educational institutions. I’m struggling to even imagine the nature of the brief given to the advertising agency for this ad. Was it: “We want you to tap into the warrior nature of potential postgraduates.” Or possibly: “We believe it’s important to convey how unwelcome minority groups are at Curtin.”

It is hard to critically evaluate someone’s advertising without knowing their objectives so I may be way off beam, however …

At face value, this is an awful piece of advertising with strategic and executional problems.

It looks like they are targeting graduates wanting MBA’s as a business qualification. Their positioning seems to be “more aggressive than other universities”. But is aggression the axis on which students will make their decisions? Is aggression a meaningful distinction in post-graduate study? Surely students would value more highly “employability”, “premium salaries” and “support”. And I would guess that Curtin, with its technical college history would compare well to other institutions on employability and perhaps even salaries. It works to leverage your natural advantages. Social psychologists will tell you that it’s easier to convince people of something they already half believe.

Also on the strategic front, is the positioning (aggression) ownable and sustainable? Can it be powerfully associated with the brand Curtin in a way that other institutions cannot?

Executionally, the ad has no branding. The association between the message (a competitive advantage in your career) and the advertiser (Curtin University) is non-existent.

Query whether the ninja metaphor would really strike a chord with your average graduate.

The ad tries to get prospective graduates to attend an information night. Couldn’t they have made that a little more obvious? A full-page headline that said “Shift your Graduate ass into Postgrad bad-ass on Tuesday at Kings Park Function Centre” would have put more bums on seats.

Well that’s one approach. But here’s what I don’t get. Curtin is advertising to a target market that is by definition educated and literate, and yet they advance no rational argument, no science, no market research and no statistics. With academics from every discipline to draw on, what dum-dum is responsible for this lame effort?


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