What if? Designworks and University of Canterbury look to the future to sort out the present

  • Marketing
  • June 13, 2012
  • Ben Fahy
What if? Designworks and University of Canterbury look to the future to sort out the present

Designworks has just completed work to reposition the University of Canterbury and help attract prospective students, which has been a bit of struggle since the earthquakes. And it is urging Canterbury businesses to follow the university’s lead and take a fresh look at their positioning if they want to grow in the future. 

According to the Otago Daily Times, The University of Canterbury “recorded a five percent drop in its enrolment figures from new students alongside a ten percent drop in applications from international students for the 2012 academic year”. Total applications to enrol, however, were up 15 percent on the same time last year.


Designworks, which recently re-established its office in the city after it was levelled in the quake, developed a new strategy and visual expression for the university to help differentiate it from other education providers, with a recruitment campaign spanning TV (which was shot by Flying Fish), outdoor and digital that focuses on what makes the University world class.

The university is also planning a series of recruitment events and the website has also been re-designed. And while the university has retained its existing logo and crest, the campaign has boosted the use of Canterbury colours.

UC now encourages students to ‘Be prepared to change the world’ and intentionally highlights challenging research through provocations such as ‘What if you could buy a new heart over the counter?’, ‘What if we learnt te reo to delay Alzheimers?’ and ‘What if we treated robots as our equals?’ in a step that Carl Pavletich, branch manager of Designworks Christchurch, says moves UC away from the generic ‘lifestyle’ appeal common to much of the education sector.

“The perceptions of Christchurch have changed and the business dynamic has changed. The earthquakes have offered Christchurch an opportunity to move to a more mature stance and away from chocolate boxes and postcards of a meandering river. The research we carried out with the University of Canterbury demonstrated it, like many organisations in the region, needed a strong value proposition to stand out in what’s an incredibly competitive marketplace.”

“… The campaign has refocused the brand around the university’s core value—as a world class place of learning,” he says. “The new visual expression also ramps up the local pride. We wanted to focus on the university’s world class teaching and research and tailor the campaign to different target audiences, whether that’s international or domestic students.”

David Williams, University of Canterbury’s marketing manager, says the University recognised the importance of developing a strong brand position to reach its goals “and this campaign provides us with an opportunity to clearly position ourselves as a relevant university delivering outstanding research and teaching in a competitive world”.

Designworks also works with Air New Zealand (specifically on the fast check-in counters and the Skycouch), Tait Communications (which it recently rebranded), AMI Insurance, Monteith’s, Telecom and Silver Fern Farms.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Year in Review: Amber Coulter

  • Year in Review
  • January 18, 2019
  • Amber Coulter
Year in Review: Amber Coulter

Every year, StopPress asks players in the local industry for their reflections on the marketing year that was. Here's what Amber Coulter, partner at TRA, has to say.

Read more
Next page
Results for

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2019 ICG Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.


Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit