University of Detroit Mercy


Perhaps no city was hit harder by the “Great Recession” than Detroit. As the auto industry struggled to stay afloat, other institutions in the city also faced substantial challenges. For the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM), the recession led to several years of declining enrollment, followed by a period of flat enrollment. The school partnered with Comcast Spotlight for a multi-screen advertising campaign designed to return UDM to positive territory, with a target of a one-to-two percent enrollment growth. STRATEGY: UDM’s primary audience, as one might expect, was young adults and high-school students exploring educational options throughout the Detroit market. The secondary audience included parents of those prospective undergrads, as well as graduate school students. Comcast Spotlight research found that sports programming was very popular with those audiences, so UDM focused its television marketing component on high-profile events like NFL coverage, Detroit Tigers baseball, college sports—including the NCAA tournament—and pro hockey. That meant the majority of commercials aired on channels like Big Ten Network, ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT. For consistency of messaging, the same commercials were incorporated into in-banner and in-stream video advertising. Those digital ads, along with static banner advertisements, incorporated links to UDM’s website and social media pages, and showcased the school’s inclusion on the U.S. News & World Report’s list of best colleges.


UDM’s multi-screen marketing plan aced the test, as the school grew year-over-year enrollment by more than 10%. In-banner and in-stream video advertising recorded 133 hours of total viewing, while display banner advertising delivered more than 4.6 million impressions.