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U of C recruits students with TV ad

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The University of Calgary is running its first-ever televised ad campaign this year, focusing on southern Ontario.

"There are a lot of students [in southern Ontario] and we have programs they'll find attractive," said U of C president Dr. Harvey Weingarten. "Students, when they look at their options, should be thinking about some programs here."

Weingarten noted that although the televised ad will only run in Ontario, the university also advertises heavily in B.C. and Alberta. In all three regions, the university uses advertising in print, including newspapers and magazines, through campus fairs and in airports, as well as sends recruitment staff to over 240 schools across the country. In the past, the U of C has even run ads in movie theatres over Christmas break.

The televised ad was a joint production between U of C external relations and Scout Communications. The production of the ad cost $22,000 and the cost to place the ad on networks including CTV, CBC and Global was $26,807. The ad will have two, one-month runs, one this fall and one in the spring. The audience who may see the ad could be as large as 2,617,000.

"Part of our job is to do something that is unexpected and unusual," said U of C vice-president external relations Roman Cooney. "Students are being bombarded with information about universities. Part of our job is to try to break through that noise and do something that is going to grab a student's attention. If your successful in the ad, it drives more people to the Internet and to recruiters. An ad is a means to the end, which is to get more students to apply."

A university is funded in proportion to the amount of students it has, and more funding translates into bigger and better programs, influencing a universities reputation. Fall is an optimal time of year to raise awareness about opportunities at the U of C because applications start to open across the country in Nov., noted U of C vice-provost students Ann Tierney.

"We have an institutional goal, for first-year enrollment and when we set that goal we do it by starting the process where we look at each faculty and the capacity that that program has, both for first-year entry students and then for upper-year entry; some come in as transfer students et cetera," explained Tierney. "Then we roll that up and we have an overall institutional goal for enrollment."

The 2007/08 academic year institutional enrolment--that includes first-years, undergraduates, professional school students, graduates--was 27,764, just shy of the 27,800 target.

The televised ads are aimed to attract both potential students and their parents.

"Research shows that parents are big influences on students' decisions on where they decide to go to university," said Cooney.

He noted that the televised campaign would be supplemented by print ads, which are able to convey much higher level of detail, such as website addresses and scholarship opportunities.

"If [the television campaign] does achieve the goal of creating a higher level of awareness of the U of C as a place to consider, then it'll be successful," said Cooney. "You have to reinvent yourself. You have to find new and different ways to engage students. Students are smart, they're looking around, they're looking at their options and we want them to consider U of C as one of their options."

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