National U. Goes on Attack in Amazon Campaign

National University strives to make a clean break from familiar college traditions in a new campaign by Amazon Advertising.

The work is the agency’s first for the client and is due to break Aug. 5 in newspapers and on the radio in California.

Gone is the old tagline “Learn to succeed,” which sounded too “remedial,” as one agency source put it. Instead, the ads use bold headlines with a confident attitude and an element of swagger.

“This institution has been an educational innovator for years. The goal now is to reflect that innovation in its advertising,” said Suzan Briganti, agency strategic director.

The school is marketing intensive 14-month master’s-degree programs in a variety of fields, said a representative. Cost per program is $12,000-14,000. “We are presenting NU not as an alternative to traditional programs but as a better and more modern approach to higher education for the real world,” said Amazon president Millie Olson.

Because the private university is aimed at busy working adults, the campaign seeks to be assertive, intelligent and simple. Some ads go so far as to mock the heritage of conventional universities.

“It’s nice to stroll down the long halls of academia, but there is something to be said for competition,” says one print execution. “Master of Sciences degree. Now available in slow and archaic or quick and modern,” says another.

The ads are anchored with the school’s name and emblem rather than a tag, and include an 800 number and Web site address. The backgrounds include photos of historic buildings and scenes as a contrast to the contemporary message.

Agency officials said the approach reflects the attitudes and experiences of the working adults targeted by the college. Research for the campaign showed that adult students want programs that treat them like valued clients and provide rigorous and efficient training, the officials said.

The ads will run year-round and rotate information about specific programs in certain regions.

National University is based in La Jolla, Calif., and operates 26 learning centers, primarily in Southern and Central California. It was founded in 1971.