THE BLOG
09/02/2010 03:48 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Drake's New Ad Campaign Gets A Near-Failing Mark

Drake University officials are receiving poor grades today from the advertising world after its new "D+" marketing campaign was highlighted by the advertising blog AdFreak this morning.

The AdFreak blog post -- entitled "Drake University's ad campaign gets big D+" -- describes Drake officials "feverishly scrambling" to explain the logic behind a symbol with such a negative connotation in all realms of academia.

Launched this semester, the Drake Advantage initiative attempts to highlight the relationship between the skills that students bring to the university plus the opportunities offered by Drake -- its official slogan reading, "The Drake Advantage: your Potential + our Opportunities."

Admissions literature display prominent plus symbols throughout pages that describe the university's academic excellence, while also being displayed next to edgy statements that aim at standing out from normal college literature. From, "The way we see it, it's an advantage," to, "Your Perseverance + Academic Rigor," the handouts and admissions website continue to stick to the "+" theme.

In an internal e-mail released to faculty and staff yesterday, Vice President of Admission and Financial Aid Tom Delahunt and Executive Director of Marketing and Communications Debra Lukehart executive director of Marketing and Communications wrote: "The D+ was not designed to stand alone or represent a grade. Instead, it was designed to be paired with prose and draw attention to the distinctive advantages of the Drake experience."

The e-mail, which was recovered by the website The Awl, continues, "Our experience in the survey and in the field suggests that the kind of students whom we want to attract to Drake easily understand and appreciate the irony of the D+, and that it is having the intended effect of encouraging students to find out more about what makes Drake so special."

Drake students have not taken kindly to the new theme, some seeing it as a tarnish on the university's reputation. Senior Josie Berg-Hammond said that the decision to use the new slogan was absent-minded and that a lot of people might not understand the meaning without further explanation.

"It just seems that there are so many other ways at promoting the school with funnier slogans that are eye-catching, without something that seems too obviously related to the grade D+, which is kind of like a joke of a grade," Berg-Hammond said.

Although junior Aaron Ruggles finds issues with the new slogan, he said that he does not see the new campaign, or the reaction to it, as something that will change the overall reputation of Drake.

"Once you get past the initial shock of what Drake is doing and then watch the rest of the slides (on the website), you kind of understand what they were getting at," he said. "But why did no one catch this before?"

Senior Matt Pruett said that he hopes people will look beyond the ironic slogan that brought him "complete, abject shock," and see the university for its "A" quality academics.

"The actions of Drake's administration are not representative of the students and professors here," he said. "There are many professors who do their jobs well and make this a learning environment well above 'D+' potential."