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Iona Ads Promise Lessons for Life

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BOSTON Re:Think Group next week breaks a multimedia campaign designed to help small Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., compete for prospective undergraduate and MBA students in an increasingly competitive Northeastern college marketplace.

"Some of these schools, especially New York University, as well as Fordham, do have a robust ad presence in the New York metro market," said Keith Goldberg, co-creative director at independent Re:Think in Stamford, Conn. "This campaign represents Iona's emergence as a midsize school that is seeing academic rankings and a higher profile from its athletic teams spurring interest among area students who might have chosen NYU or Fordham."

New York University and Fordham last year spent about $6 million and $800,000 on ads, respectively, while St. John's and Iona each spent roughly $400,000, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Iona's spending will likely be more than $1 million this year.

In the past, Iona's efforts have been "typical academic advertising which featured testimonial quotes from alumni," Goldberg said.

Re:Think's six-week TV, print, radio and direct-mail push, its first for Iona since taking on the business last year, introduces the theme "Earn a degree that matters" in an effort to position the school with both students and parents as offering an education that graduates can leverage in the working world. The message, Goldberg said, is simple and direct: An Iona degree is well worth the price of tuition.

"We didn't want the same old cliches and platitudes that typify a lot of educational advertising," said Dianne Cagianello, director of communications at Iona. "We wanted something that would challenge students and inspire them by showing respect for their intelligence."

One print ad shows an Iona student writing a paper in her dorm room. Eight short sentences descend along the left side of the page. They read: "You have a duty to yourself. To write your personal history. Follow your outline. Craft the narrative. Edit. Rewrite. To always believe the next chapter will be your best. To matter."

Another ad features a student in the biology lab. The copy reads: "You are lucky. There is more life in front of you than there is behind you. Make the most of it. Build a company. Find a cure. Teach children to read. Shoot the '3.' Matter."

A 30-second TV spot directed by Brett Froomer employs a similar approach and expands the idea by presenting footage shot on campus and during a dawn practice session of the rowing team on Long Island Sound.

Print will appear in media including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. TV and radio will run on various local and national outlets.