Advertising Campaigns: Queen's University - Grand Gold Medal

39A: Advertising Campaigns
Queen’s University, Aberdeen Campaign
Grand Gold Medal

Contact: Kathleen Vollebregt, mark eting services, Marketing and Communications, Fleming Hall, Stewart Pollock Wing, 107, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6, Phone: (613) 533-3227, e-mail:

Overview: Homecoming has always been an exciting weekend with thousands of alumni returning to campus and enjoying many of the reunion events and activities. Over the last several years an unsanctioned “event” has become a highlight of the weekend for students. A street party inevitably ensues with Aberdeen Street, dominated by student housing, becoming the centre point for the “event”. While some alumni attend this “event” it is not an official Homecoming celebration.

Despite a number of initiatives put in place by the university (an on campus concert, letters to the student population reminding them of Codes of Conduct, radio ads asking for responsible partying), the “event” in 2005 took a turn for the worse and became a near riot with more than 35 arrests and a minimum of 225 charges for liquor license infractions. Of most concern to the university administration was the blatant disrespect for the safety of community members living in this off-campus area, fellow students, and for city organizations such as the fire department and police. A car was overturned and set ablaze and many rescue workers were unable to provide assistance due to the crowds and the unruly behaviour of students.

The Challenge: As preparation began for Homecoming 2006, (September 15, 16 and 17) the issue of dealing with Aberdeen (September 16th) was on everyone’s mind. The challenge was to develop strategies to encourage more responsible student behaviour. Messaging and tactics of the past year had been unsuccessful.

After several focus groups with students and those closely involved in the Aberdeen event a number of strategies and initiatives were developed with one component including a comprehensive Advertising Program targeted to the student population and broader community.

The Advertising Campaign

The Goal: There was little doubt that the party would happen. The ultimate goal was to ensure that it was a “safe” homecoming.

Creative Strategy: Previous attempts at messaging had always targeted the students that acted irresponsibly, i.e. overturning cars, smashing beer bottles. The targeting for this campaign shifted to “All students that attend the Aberdeen Street Party”. The goal was to communicate that the possibility of unruly behaviour would decrease if there was not an audience or at the very least passive bystanders. Anyone attending the party, although not actively turning cars over, is equally responsible for the outcomes. Those outcomes are:

  • Eroding and damaging the university’s reputation
  • Eroding the value of their degree
  • Jeopardizing the safety of citizens

The secondary target was the broader Kingston community. The goal was to clearly demonstrate that the University was attempting to control the situation on Aberdeen.

Five executions were developed with some using imagery from the previous year’s event.

  • Boozed-Fuelled Riot at Queen’s
  • No One Died At Last Year’s Street Party
  • Keep Queen’s Reputation Out of the Gutter
  • It Wasn’t The Five Idiots on The Car Who Made The Headlines
  • It’s Not a Car

The campaign was supported through posters, door hangers and newspaper advertising. Also developed were: 10 sec radio tags.

Campaign Execution

Media Media Plan Executions
Ad rotation in Student Newspaper: The Journal 1/2 page ads
4 insertions:
September 8 Booze-Fuelled Riot
September 12 No One Died
September 15 Out of the Gutter
September 19 Thank You Letter
Ad rotation in Faculty/Staff Newspaper: The Gazette ¼ page ads;
3 insertions
September 11 No One Died
September 25 Thank You Letter
Ad Rotation in local Paper: The Kingston Whig Standard ¼ page ads:
3 insertions
September 13 Booze-Fuelled Riot
September 16 Booze-Fuelled Riot
September 20 Thank You Letter
5 Posters: 11 X 17 Full Colour, Produced 2500 (500 X 5 executions) All five executions of campaign distributed across campus
Door Hangers - 7000 produced Hand delivered to the off campus neighbourhood…targeting student houses. Also distributed on campus One execution:
Out of the Gutter
:10 sec Radio Tags Not aired due to amount of on-air coverage of event and media surrounding the campaign
Campaign Costs: Production and Design of Posters, Door Hangers, Newspaper ads, radio tags: $8,063; Media Insertion costs: $4,012

Total Cost of Campaign: $12,075

Campaign Results: The student body and the Kingston community reacted positively to the advertising campaign. The greatest concern was the rejection of the message by students as pedantic and pejorative. There was an element of risk in using the imagery of the previous year but the campaign clearly created impact and communicated the message of shared responsibility.

The efforts to control the outcomes of the party were deemed a success. The street party commenced without incidence. This of course was due to the efforts of many and numerous initiatives, including the Aberdeen campaign.