Drake University: Bad Marketing


Even if the Athemed campaigns common in education organizations are a little tiresome, at least there’s a certain logic to them. A’s are the grades one earns for doing a good job in school.

So when Drake University introduced its D+ advertising campaign for the 2010 academic year, marketing people were quick to recoil in horror. As Tim Nudd wrote on AdFreak:

Drake University officials are feverishly scrambling to explain why they thought “D+” would be a great theme for a recruitment ad campaign. The D+ is meant to be shorthand for the magic that occurs when Drake plus a student get together. To many, though, it seems to position Drake as a school whose standards barely exceed total failure.

Oh, no, no. You just don’t understand, protests Drake. It’s called the “Drake Advantage.” According to Debra Lukehart, executive director of marketing and communications at the Iowa college, “The D+ was not designed to stand alone or represent a grade. Instead, it was designed to be paired with prose and draw attention to the distinctive advantages of the Drake experience.”

Well right, failure to recognize how people might perceive things is how bad advertising campaigns happen.

The Drake Advantage/D+ theme (above) was created by Stamats Communications, an Iowa marketing company. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer