UPDATE: Some professors, students and alumni at Drake University have given a failing grade to the logo for a new marketing campaign aimed at recruiting high school students: a great big D+.
While he said professors don’t pay much attention to school marketing campaigns, professor of environmental science and policy David Courard-Hauri told the Des Moines Register that plastering a near-failing grade on Drake materials doesn’t send the best message.
“Drake has a great reputation and being associated with a D+ might not be beneficial,” Courard-Hauri said.
But school leaders defended the logo as attention-getting, which they said is important to draw in high school students who are flooded with promotional material from colleges.
The irreverent approach is tailored to that group, said Tom Delahunt, the school’s vice president for admissions and student financial planning.
“They get sarcasm and irony,” he said.
Delahunt said that, above all, Drake leaders wanted to provoke a reaction.
“We are differentiating ourselves,” he said.
The school hired Cedar Rapids-based Stamats Communications, which specializes in higher education, to develop its “Drake Advantage” recruitment campaign. It was recently unveiled to prospective students through brochures and a website.
The brochures and website both feature the large “D+” logo, and pair phrases like “Your potential + Our opportunities” and “Your passion + Our experience.”
The website states: “When we talk about D+, that’s what we mean. Every moment at Drake is one that has the power to educate, to transform, to open minds and to unleash potential — to introduce who you are, to who you hope to become.”
Officials said the school tested the concept on 921 high school students, and more than 75 percent said the logo was either a little or very attention-grabbing. School spokeswoman Lisa Lacher said since unveiling the campaign this summer, the school has seen an increase in inquiries and campus visits.
In an e-mail message to faculty members, school administrators defended the logo but apologized for not vetting it more fully with faculty members. “We are very sorry that many of you were caught by surprise,” the e-mail said.