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Why creatives love graduate campaigns

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They have their own awards categories and often push your employer brand to its limits. But why do graduate attraction campaigns pack such a punch? Our Senior Copywriter gets into it.

Graduate campaigns. They’re nice, aren’t they? They always stand out and they’re just that little bit extra. But what makes them so different? And why do you (almost invariably) get such great creative when you brief them in?

The lead time

First of all, grad season is a thing. There’s a set window for hiring your batch of fresh graduates every year (not that you have to wait for it to start building relationships). We know when our target audience leaves university, when the careers fairs are and when our intake is.

All of which means you can plan backwards, giving your agency six months (sometimes more) to think up, think through and finesse knock ‘em dead creative campaigns and collateral. The comparatively long timelines of the graduate marketing cycle makes for a less reactive approach and means your creative team has space to really let loose and develop that big, award-winning idea.


The budgets

Spoiler: the heady world of employer branding and marketing doesn’t exactly have access to the same budget as the rest of adland. Graduate attraction is one of the times specialist creatives have access to a bigger budget – and it shows.

Smart companies spare no expense when they’re fighting for the cream of the graduate crop, which frees up the creative to go bigger and bolder. That extra budget takes your careers stand from a pile of brochures, free tote bag and pull-up banner to an interactive, immersive experience that represents your company as it really is. Think 360 videos, sensory audio, games and more.

The audience

The simple fact is that undergraduates are a dream audience. They’re (generally) young, passionate, intelligent and ready for their next step. They’re excited for what the future holds, and are open to your company being that future. Great graduate campaigns tap into that excitement and sense of promise. As a creative, it’s inspiring stuff.


The channels

Creatives love an integrated campaign. Graduate attraction spans digital, mobile, print, experiential. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve seen grad campaigns featuring treasure hunts, drone photography, thousands of lapel badges, bespoke games and apps – even a giant fibreglass elephant that toured university campuses. The point is that grad campaigns let us flex our creative muscle and our technical skill, as we switch between crafting a brochure and mobile-first digital experiences.

Creative license

Finally, grad campaigns bring out boldness. You’ll find even the most corporate companies embracing their secondary colour palette and considering illustration when they’re looking at undergraduate marketing. Graduate campaigns allow us to push the employer brand (and the corporate one). The trick is going far enough while still respecting the masterbrand, and – of course – striking the balance between candidate expectation and reality. It’s no easy task easy, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.


August 16, 2018, We Are Unity