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By Theresa Walker

Still from University of Melbourne's "Collision" campaign

Collision Course

Crashing Success

Despite the University of Melbourne's ranking as a top Australian university, people didn't always view it as a research institution that's tackling the world's challenges. In September 2015, Melbourne launched its "Collision" brand campaign—with an eponymous 60-second TV commercial as its centerpiece—to demonstrate that it is a place where great minds collide. The ad opens with a seated woman who suddenly leaps up, runs, and unexpectedly hurls herself into a passerby who catches her. University community members rush to the scene, then come together and move as one to form a human skull, a rolling sea, and a growing tree. Voiceovers of researchers discussing these subjects in audio clips are interspersed with sound effects such as ocean waves. The spot garnered more than 1.5 million views on Facebook and YouTube, achieved strong recall among target audiences, and improved people's perception of the university.

The University of Melbourne won a 2016 Circle of Excellence Award, Gold, in the individual ads category.

Rice University's Owl Edge Externships program

Quick Taste of the Real World

Brief Externships Bring Big Results

Undergraduate students are increasingly looking for opportunities to explore career paths before committing to a field of study. Rice University in Texas launched Owl Edge Externships in 2015 to achieve that goal and engage more alumni volunteers in the process. The program enables students to shadow professionals in the workplace for one to five days. By the end of the academic year, 129 students had been placed in 156 externships—exceeding the initial goal of 25 placements. (Some students participated in multiple externships.) The Center for Career Development and the Office of Alumni Relations expanded the program in 2016, placing 297 students—69 percent of them freshmen and sophomores—in 346 externships in more than 10 U.S. cities.

Rice University reaped a 2016 Circle of Excellence Award, Gold, in the single institution collaborative programs category.

Cheshire Academy's "One Word. One Gift" campaign

Word Power

It Only Takes One

Simplifying the idea behind a failed previous annual giving effort at Cheshire Academy, a Connecticut boarding school for students in grades 9–12, led to success one year later. Rather than requesting that donors contribute their stories as well as a financial gift, the "One Word. One Gift." campaign asked supporters to submit a single word to describe their Cheshire experience and make an annual fund gift in honor of their chosen term. The straightforward call to action yielded a 20 percent increase in donor participation in 2014–15 and a 30 percent increase in 2015–16, raising nearly $1.5 million over two years. The words contributed by community members also fueled the campaign's print and digital efforts.

Cheshire Academy collected a 2016 Circle of Excellence Award, Silver, in the annual giving programs category.

About the Author Theresa Walker Theresa Walker

Theresa Walker is a senior editor at Currents, where she covers the marketing and communications beat.




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