The College Relations and Marketing team at Washington College has won two Awards of Distinction in the 24th Annual Communicator Awards for its collaborative campaign with BuzzFeed to increase WC’s awareness among college-bound teens. Judged by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA), the Communicator Awards is the largest and most competitive awards program honoring creative excellence for communications professionals.
Washington College earned Awards of Distinction in marketing effectiveness for content marketing, and in digital/online advertising and marketing for its native advertising through the BuzzFeed campaign. Other winners included Acura, Fiat Chrysler Jeep, Whirlpool, Bank of America, Citi, FedEx, and Pepsi. The international competition is judged by AIVA, a group of 600-plus leading professionals in media, advertising, and marketing, including Starbucks, Condé Nast, Time, Inc., Yahoo!, and Disney.
The strategic campaign with BuzzFeed, a leading independent digital media company known to capture the 13- to 17-year-old market through its powerful distribution channels on social media, represents the first time the College has attempted to generate awareness on this scale.
“The goal was to reach high school students when they are most engaged–on their phones and on social media–with relatable sponsored content they care about to engage and share with their friends on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram,” says Rolando Irizarry, Washington College vice president of communications and marketing. “The native content we strategically created within the BuzzFeed format authentically speaks to the unique values of Washington College and shares the college life experience while living on the Eastern Shore and in Chestertown. By doing this, we were able to generate mass awareness, spark interest, and drive students to look into Washington College as an option.”
The four-month campaign resulted in 83 million impressions, with close to one million viewers who clicked on the BuzzFeed posts. As a result, compared to the same period last year,the College’s Facebook page saw a 77 percent page view increase, the College website’s homepage views increased 94 percent, and overall page views increased 32 percent site-wide.
The most popular post was “Pull An All-Nighter And We’ll Tell You What Grade You Got.” High school students easily understand the “all-nighter” idea, and the BuzzFeed audience loves taking these fun quizzes and sharing the results. This post also drove the highest number of click-outs to Washington College’s web site, generating more awareness of the College.
“The sophisticated approach to this campaign called for long hours with BuzzFeed and the creative brain power from the CRM team,” Irizarry says. “I’m so proud of them and what we’ve been able to accomplish with this campaign.”
The Communications Awards closely follows CRM winning five honors—three platinum and two gold—in the 2018 Hermes Creative Awards, showcasing its work across multiple disciplines and platforms, from the Washington College Magazine to the BuzzFeed campaign to support enrollment efforts.
Click here to view the award-winning Washington College BuzzFeed page: www.buzzfeed.com/washingtoncollege
About Washington College
Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.