Ask any communication specialist (or parent), and they’ll tell you that reaching out to high schoolers can be a massive undertaking. At any moment, a student is probably surfing Perez Hilton and updating their Facebook status via their mobile—all while “studying” for algebra. And they’re also battling those no-pressure questions from parents about what the hell they’re going to do with their lives (after they figure out what they’re wearing to prom).
So high school sophomores and juniors may have been surprised when amid the many college search pieces rallying to attract their attention and tuition dollars, there was one that strayed away from the typical postcard featuring happy students sitting under a majestic oak tree. This one, printed on oversized newsprint for an immense visual experience, arrived in two pieces. The first brochure made no mention of Loyola University Maryland on the envelope it arrived in, nor on any of the 21 pages, except for a subtle logo placed on the last page. Rather, it concentrated on dynamic design and photography, hand-drawn type and soul-piercing copywriting. A puzzle strung through the pages culminates with a memorable message that insinuates that there’s more to come.
“The first one is a big, broad overture. It acknowledges how ‘this is not that speech,’” says Dan Shepelavy, Philadelphia-based 160over90 creative director and part of the team behind the Best of Show winner. “The notion of college is still on the scale of prom.”
Copywriter Anna Hartley adds that the first piece speaks to the mind-set of the target audience. “They’re 16 or 17—they’re uncertain, but they don’t want to be spoken down to,” Hartley says.
Even though the sense of place remains fairly mysterious in the first recruitment piece, it plants a seed for a future reveal, which was sent approximately four to six weeks later to the teens. The photography came from campus shots of actual Loyola students for the brand done a few years earlier by 160over90. Designer Kelly Dorsey purposely cropped out faces and often incorporated a busted grid look in the first mailer to keep a mysterious tone and low level of specificity. “I wanted there to be curiosity: ‘Who are these people, what is this place,’” Dorsey says.
In the second piece, the images and messaging come into focus, radiating a sense of place. “Because of the way we did it, the larger reveal was more purposeful,” Dorsey says of the second piece that answers questions left lingering from the first.
Speaking to the 160over90 creative team, it’s clear that collaboration helped drive success for this year’s International Best of Show winner, and the judges took note.
“That’s storytelling at its best,” says judge Richard Westendorf. “This designer worked really well with the copywriter—it’s not an afterthought.”
Hartley talks about a constant collaboration among herself, Dorsey and Shepelavy. “We worked in tandem,” she says.
Executive creative director Jim Walls credits the design team for coming forward with a fully formed idea that they were all excited about from the start. “What I was initially impressed with is their level of insight into their audience,” he says. “As creative director, there are times when you just get the hell out of the way,” he adds.
Among the accolades and mutual respect staffers pay to one another, they make a point to credit the freedom to create an unorthodox experience to their client—Loyola University Maryland. After all, it’s not often a client waits until the very last of 21 pages to have their name subtly mentioned. This trusting relationship shined through to the judges. “Congratulations to Loyola for doing this—because clearly they trusted their agency,” remarks judge Clint! Runge.
“[The client] being open to our craziness—it let magical things happen,” Dorsey says. “I kept feeling like there was some guardian angel on this project.”
Title Loyola Sophomore/Junior Search Piece | Design Firm 160over90, Philadelphia; www.160over90.com | Executive Creative Director Jim Walls | Creative Director Dan Shepelavy | Designer Kelly Dorsey | Copywriter Anna Hartley | Printer Alcom | Client Loyola University Maryland
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