At the start of this year universities were faced with a question. How do we approach Clearing during a pandemic?

Plymouth opted for the supportive approach. Their Clearing campaign launched at the height of lockdown and the last thing they wanted was to come across as pushy, or to put pressure on prospective students at an already stressful time. So we eased into their campaign, positioning them as a university that was there to help and drawing on their key USP: that Plymouth is a supportive institution with an emphasis on community and wellbeing.

Their early awareness and pre-Clearing activity was non-disruptive and considered. Brand awareness has always been important for Plymouth, one of their challenges being the lack of knowledge students have about them and their location. So at this time, they were able to concentrate on getting their name out there and establishing themselves as a uni that really cares about their students.

phone clearing

The content we published was varied and ran across a number of platforms. We ran native content with soft messaging and put out informative articles that students would naturally come across. We adopted an understanding and encouraging tone in Twitter ads, and used camera-facing student videos for TikTok, for a natural feel which fitted in nicely with the platform.

But what really set Plymouth apart at the start of lockdown was their wellbeing ads. The ads were dynamic, showing a different message depending on the time of day, and each one presented a tip on how to improve wellbeing. Their design featured images of water to convey a feeling of calm, whilst also nodding to another of Plymouth’s USPs, their ‘Britain’s Ocean City’ location.

The results:

During the pre-Clearing period, Plymouth ran a wide range of content across a large breadth of platforms, capturing their unique audiences in all the relevant places and conveying an overall sympathetic message.

This approach led to a massive rise in their Clearing pre-registrations, a huge 102% increase on the previous year. That’s 2132 forms completed this year vs. 1051 forms last year.