Walsh College’s ad campaign pads enrollment

At Walsh College, doodling is a good thing.

A basic yellow legal pad with jotted stick figures has helped double inquiries from students hoping to enroll at the Troy business school.

Some Cliff’s Notes here:

The school’s marketing campaign, designed by Perich Advertising in Ann Arbor, employs the familiar yellow, lined paper with Sharpie-pen type doodles. Basic and instantly recognizable, the campaign has raked in dozens of high-profile awards, including the CASE Circle of Excellence Grand Gold Award for advertising campaigns in 2009. The “Live. Breathe. Business.” campaign, which debuted in 2008, has appeared in print, on billboards, online, and on TV.

Craig Dunaway, VP director of client services at Perich Advertising, says the legal-pad idea came naturally after analyzing market research.

He and his team realized that Walsh students have a serious outlook on life with a strong business focus. Considering that Walsh is the only area school focused exclusively on business, Dunaway says the ad team knew that a serious business campaign would work.

What’s one of the most rudimentary tools in the business world? A yellow legal pad. “It makes sense; it fits with it,” Dunaway says.

Walsh College Chief Marketing and Enrollment Officer John Lichtenberg says that when he began his position at Walsh in 2008, he wanted a fresh advertising campaign that broke away from the consistent trend of higher-education ads that depict “students looking at the camera and smiling.”

In the 18 months following the debut of the legal-pad campaign, Walsh saw a 7-percent increase in enrollment. Now in its 88th year, Walsh says its enrollment has never been so high.

One of the most ingenious aspects of the campaign is its ability to reinvent itself, Lichtenberg says. The simplicity of Perich’s legal pad allows the marketing team to refresh Walsh’s message.

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