Graduate Program Pushes Advertising Campaign T

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Photo: Hongyu Liu

An advertisement for Emerson College at the Downtown Crossing station.

Boston commuters have seen an unfamiliar sight at MBTA stations in recent weeks: blue, green and white screens advertising Emerson’s graduate programs.

The ads, which light up the platforms at North Station, South Station, Downtown Crossing and Government Center, are a new foray for the graduate admissions marketing department. This puts Emerson on a similar stage to other Boston-area institutions like Suffolk, Tufts, and Boston University, all of which regularly advertise as part of transit.

The choice of location is intended to promote the college’s graduate program, which has nearly doubled in the past six years, from approximately 700 in 2014 to 1,400 in 2020, to its target audience. Namely, the campaign targets working, commuting and returning professionals, the primary demographic for the graduate program, according to Senior Associate Director of Marketing and Communications for Graduate Admissions, Katie Frank.

“We chose these locations because of the relevance of marketing and advertising agencies around the city of Boston,” Frank said.

The campaign, which kicked off on September 20, promotes four of the college’s sixteen masters-level areas: sports communication, strategic marketing communication, political communication and public relations.

“These are awareness ads more than anything,” Frank said. “They are an announcement to the community.”

“We market individual programs and a portfolio of programs,” said Marketing Director Samuel Woodson.

The campaign also marks the first time the college has run “public transportation ads” – a common practice among local higher education institutions. However, they reflect the marketing department’s increased focus on digital content.

Since the college has run ads throughout the year on various social media platforms, streaming services and other online platforms in the past, Woodson said the MBTA ads weren’t much different.

“The world is digital, students are on digital platforms, so we meet them where they are,” Woodson said. “These are all coordinated with this transit advertising approach,” he added.

Frank agreed, saying the ads themselves were not limited to MBTA stations, but rather part of a “multi-level campaign”.

“We have the same language as these advertisements on Youtube, Spotify and Instagram,” she said. “It’s the same message just to put it all in one package.”

Frank also noted that the ad window corresponded to higher traffic on the college’s website, especially on the pages of the particular degrees that were advertised.

“For the most part, we’re seeing a pretty positive increase in our leads as a college from these different campaigns that we’re running,” she said.

Emerson’s ads will continue to run until Nov. 14, Frank said. After a brief hiatus, they will resume on December 27 and continue until February 20 next year.


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