University of South Wales

The CIM-award winning education campaign that inspired students to ‘Unleash Your Colours’ and bagged a £1: £7 ROI for the university.

USW’s Big Bite

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USW wanted to breakthrough the notoriously competitive student recruitment market and bolster enrolments.

Formed eight years ago through a merger of three south Walian institutions, University of South Wales was a large but relatively new HE brand. With the number of 17 and 18 year olds in the UK population falling and competition for enrolments fiercer than ever before, USW looked to establish itself in the market and recruit a healthy cohort of undergraduates.

Natural Strength

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Faculty immersion sessions, stakeholder workshops and huge amounts of desk research uncovered USW’s natural strength – its transformative, hands-on approach to learning.

Unlike many traditional heritage universities, every single USW course had a practical or work experience element. This hands-on approach created a point of difference vs classic academia, and it was only right USW’s advertising did the same.​

With an initial idea for powder paint creative incepted by USW, it was over to S3 to develop the idea into something that represented the transformative freedom of a non-traditional, hands-on USW degree.

The Skills

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  • Advertising Strategy
  • Analytics and Measurement
  • Creative
  • Design
  • Digital Advertising
  • Media Planning and Buying
  • Production
Using 75kgs of powder paint, one slow-motion camera hired in from LA, and five days’ worth of relentless shooting at Pinewood Studios, S3’s production team brought Unleash Your Colours to life. Real USW students jumped freely on trampolines to create the dazzling, dynamic campaign visuals, which were turned into a cinematic hero video and photography for use across the integrated campaign.

Next, the media task for S3 was about ensuring this attractive creative was seen in the right place, at the right time, by the right people. S3 built a media plan designed to introduce the USW brand early in an applicant’s journey, making conversion to application easier when the time was right (which was often via Clearing). Unleash Your Colours ran on All4, ITV Player and Sky Go, as well as on billboards across the country.

High impact digital screens were hand-selected to provide the colourful creative with a bright, vibrant canvas, while a digital campaign delivering increasingly urgent messages at each stage of the customer journey was achieved through ad sequencing. S3 managed USW’s digital campaigns right through to A-Level Results Day – when a high-intensity search campaign ensured capture of Clearing applications.

The Success

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A campaign that generated strong ROI and was crowned the Chartered Institute of Marketing‘s Best Integrated Campaign (Large) 2019.

This campaign also broke boundaries for USW; it was the first time in the university’s history a recruitment campaign visual was used across the university – from prospectus covers, to UCAS stands, to campus signage.

CIM Best Integrated​ Campaign (Large) 2019 Overall 2019 recruitment target achieved at 102% Brand awareness +10%​ among 17-18yr olds £2m+ advertising return created £1:£7 ROI​


Behind the scenes of USW advertising campaign Unleash Your Colours by S3 Advertising
Behind the scenes of USW advertising campaign Unleash Your Colours by S3 Advertising
Behind the scenes of USW advertising campaign Unleash Your Colours by S3 Advertising
Behind the scenes of USW advertising campaign Unleash Your Colours by S3 Advertising
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