Why We Love 160over90’s Client Promotions Design

Editor’s Note: 160over90‘s crazy-good client promotions design won Best of Show in last year’s Promotion & Marketing Design Awards. Read on to find out what made this project stand out to our judges.

Honor Roll: Client Promotions at its Best

Think back to your high-school days, when you were wrestling with those heavy, teen-angsty decisions that would shape the rest of your life. Is college right for you? Art school? Should you choose a big university, one with a huge campus and lots of opportunities? Or a boutique art program with a smaller student body and a niche curriculum?

Higher-ed recruitment campaigns have to address those questions, reassure parents and, most important, connect deeply with students. This Best of Show winner hits beautifully and effectively on all those points. The engaging package of materials that Philadelphia branding agency 160over90 created for the University of Hartford, Hartford Art School “embodies an art program that you’d want to be a part of,” says judge Jessica Kuhn, HOW’s editor.


Out of the Box: “When you get this in the mail, there’s this box with a kraft paper wrapper—like it’s unfinished,” says Chad Miller, 160over90 senior designer. “Inside, the details are more polished.” The overall message to prospective students? “It’s OK that you’re unsure about your work. We’re here to help you become the artist you want to be.”

Apparently, high school seniors felt the same. Chad Miller, 160over90 senior designer, says the campaign boosted applications by 10% in a single school year. Miller and fellow designer Kay Sim nailed the project in large part because they’re both just a few years into their professional careers. “We were really good people to work on this because both of us were in that position not long ago,” Miller says. “We were primed to do this project from the get-go.”

Generic_Competition_Logos_Promo_300x220One of the key strategies, Sim says, was to define the Art School’s place in the larger University of Hartford, to convey to prospective students both the specific creative curriculum and the opportunities and experiences available on a sizable public-school campus. “I went to an art school that was part of a larger university, so I was aware of the challenge of being in the art-school bubble but also wanting to be a part of a larger campus and getting the best of both worlds,” Sim says.


Want more promotional inspiration? Check out 5 Years of Graphic Design Self-Promotion: 427 Winners.

The team focused on a message of “you are unfinished” to address the uncertainty that high school students feel about their artwork, and to reassure them that they’ll get the guidance and polishing they seek. “You’re coming right out of high school,” Sim says. “It’s about coming to school and crafting what you want to be as an artist, and the journey that takes you on.”


You are a Blank Canvas: The primary piece, which features a Moleskine notebook and art tools on the cover, hits on the “You are unfinished” message and shows prospective students how the University of Hartford’s Art School can help them find their voices. The bold typography supports the inspirational copy, and images show students at work and on campus.

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That message starts with a custom-built box made of rough kraft paper. Inside, a bound book with the title, “No one can make you an artist … that is up to you” resonates with prospective students who are passionate about their work. An accordion-fold piece titled “Art takes courage” introduces some of the university’s art students and showcases their projects. “You learn about this place and what it can mean to you, then you’re seeing work that’s actually coming out of the school,” Sim says.

The final piece is an intriguing poster that declares, “Create something of yourself.” On the back is a helpful checklist that guides prospective students in assembling their portfolio and applying to the art school. “That’s the one piece that kind of lights the fire in the person,” Sim says. “You see what the school is, you see what the other students are doing—now let’s see what you can do.”

The aspirational messaging, portrait-style photos of students and bold typography combine to draw prospectives in and let them envision themselves as part of the school. The experience ends with a secret message printed in the box beneath the inserts: “We see greatness in you.” Great, indeed.

Project Credits:
Title University of Hartford, Hartford Art School Recruitment Package | Design firm 160over90, Philadelphia | Creative Team Darryl Cilli, chief creative officer/founder; Jim Walls, group executive creative director/principal; Sig Gross, creative director; Travis Ludwig, associate creative director; Chad Miller, senior designer; Kay Sim, designer; Tom Ammon, Ryan Greenberg, photographers; Chara Odhner, copywriter; Mary Olson, production manager | Printer J.S. McCarthy Printers | Client University of Hartford


2015_promo_web_ads_april17_300x220We hope learning how 160over90 won the judges’ hearts in 2014 has inspired YOU to take the leap and enter your strongest project in this year’s Promotion & Marketing Design Awards—the only award that specifically recognizes outstanding promotion design work.

Whether it’s a self-promo to showcase a design firm’s capabilities, a project that touts a client’s goods, an announcement for a major life event, or a student designer’s résumé or design portfolio, if it’s your finest promotional design work, we can’t wait to see it!