Brenau Radio Commercials Win Three National Advertising Awards

August 29, 2011

Brenau University won three prestigious national advertising awards for a series of radio commercials credited with helping the university achieve record-breaking enrollment for the current academic year.

Xavier Riddick

The story of Xavier Riddick, 38, a 2008 graduate from Grovetown, Ga., was one of those featured in an award-winning series of radio commercials produced by Brenau University. Riddick a military veteran, who is married with a family, was a truck driver when he enrolled in Brenau. He completed an undergraduate degree in education and now plans to continue in graduate school working toward a Ph.D., to help him realize a new ambition to become a school administrator.

Called the “Extraordinary Lives” series, the 30-second commercials were aimed primarily at people outside the normal age bracket for college students – those, for example, who may want to finish the college education they put off earlier in life, who want to improve job skills or switch careers or those looking for more enrichment in their intellectual lives. Scott Briell, Brenau senior vice president for enrollment management and student services, said the advertising campaign helped the university reach a high-water mark for overall enrollment. In its official October reports to the U.S. Department of Education, Brenau listed overall enrollment at 2,761, which included close to a 15 percent jump on the five Brenau nonresidential campuses and a more than 35 percent increase in students seeking graduate and undergraduate degrees online.


“We are particularly pleased with the results of the advertising campaign because it was directed primarily at nontraditional students, which are typically harder to reach that the traditional 18- to 22-year-old college prospect,” said Briell, “This is a group that is older, more diverse and possessing a broader-range of interests and influences. As a result, they are harder to reach.”

Brenau and its advertising agency, Catalyst Communications, of Ellicott City, Md., produced a series of four commercials based on real-life circumstances of some Brenau students. Baltimore-based Rytter Group, which designs Brenau’s recruitment publications and advertising collateral, also assisted. Three of the commercial won coveted Davey Awards, which are sanctioned and judged by the International Academy of the Visual Arts, an invitation-only body comprising top-tier professionals from advertising and marketing firms. The awards get their name from the historical Biblical figure David, “who defeated Goliath with a big idea and a rock,” the IAVA Website declares. Hence the Daveys recognize achievements of the “‘Creative Davids,’ who derive their strength from big ideas rather than stratospheric budgets.”

From more than 4,000 entries Brenau won two top Gold Awards, one, called “New Life,” about a divorced mom who had been a teacher’s assistant but went back to school to get an education degree, and the second, called “Navy Man,” about a “retired” U.S. Navy submariner who earned an M.B.A. at Brenau to help him start a new career at age 40. Brenau also won a Silver award for the commercial called “Second Chance” about a trucker-turned-teacher after he earned a Brenau diploma.

The “Extraordinary Lives” campaign previously won two other national awards from the publication, Higher Education Marketing Report: a Silver Award for Radio Advertising and a Merit Award for Best Overall Marketing campaign.

Under Brenau’s strategic plan, the university anticipates substantial growth in the nonresidential programs, particularly in the area of graduate studies. Enrollment at the Gainesville, Ga., residential undergraduate Women’s College, founded in 1878, will stabilize at 900 to 1,000 students, Briell said. Currently about a third of the student body attends the Women’s College. By time enrollment hits the planned ceiling for 5,000 by 2025, it will be about 20 percent.

“The Women’s College remains a vital part of the Brenau long-term strategy, but the demographics of higher education are changing dramatically year to year,” he said. “The university leaders figured that out more than 30 years ago and began in the 1970s building the foundation for meeting the needs of the student population we will have in the next two decades.”

In addition to fully accredited online degree programs, Brenau operates nonresidential graduate and undergraduate programs in Gainesville and four other locations: North Atlanta in Norcross, South Atlanta in Fairburn, Augusta and Kings Bay at the U.S. Navy Trident nuclear submarine base there.

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