UNB Marketing Blog
Tips and tricks from your university marketers

How to show off your campus from afar

Author: Marketing

Posted on Mar 25, 2016

Category: Brand

UNB joined the ranks of Facebook, Google and McDonalds by using virtual reality goggles to share the UNB experience.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and Jennifer Flanagan, President and CEO of Actua, take part in a virtual reality demonstration at the new Google Canada Development headquarters in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Like many post-secondary institutions, we were faced with a problem: how do we showcase the beauty of our campuses to students outside of our province?

Enter the virtual reality goggles.

Easy to use, easy to build and just so darn cool, these cardboard goggles allow users to experience 3D virtual tours of our Fredericton and Saint John campuses right on their smartphones.

So we branded them with our #OnlyHere campaign messaging and colours – all while making them super pretty to look at – and have since been using them as a tactic in our larger #OnlyHere recruitment campaign.

We now had the capacity to show off our campuses to anyone, anywhere – just as long as they had the goggles.

But once you have a multimedia tool like this, what’s the best way to maximize their use?

Ontario Universities Fair

In the fall of 2015, we packed up our goggles and launched a guerrilla-marketing tactic outside of the Ontario Universities’ Fair (OUF).

Our goal here was ultimately to build awareness of UNB in Ontario.

We aimed to bring the experience of a campus tour to life based on the core value that students who take a campus tour are far more likely to apply than those who don’t. (In fact, this event was the whole reason behind us getting the goggles in the first place.)

Students and their families were greeted by our enthusiastic brand ambassadors dressed in bright red branded UNB uniforms. With the virtual tour goggles already set up with a smartphone, they simply handed them to students to take a look. Then, they were given a swag bag with their own set of goggles to take home.

Over that weekend, we distributed 5,000 UNB bags – each with their own set of goggles – to prospective students.

The virtual tour includes academic buildings, residences and insights into student life at UNB. It’s a 3D experience that allows the user to view these spaces in 360 degrees – to make them feel like they’re really there.

And that’s exactly what they did. The feedback was astounding.

Both in person and later on social media, people had great things to say about the goggles.

  • “When I asked about the campus, I really wasn’t expecting you to show me it, actually. Very cool.” –Male, 17.
  • “Wow, Fredericton has an awesome campus! How far away is it?” -Male 17-18
  • “This is an amazing idea! Did UNB design these?” –Mom, 40-45
  • “This is so futuristic! How did they even do this? I’m so impressed.” -Female 16- 17
  • “I get one too?! I’m definitely showing my friends this, what app do I need to download?” –Female16-17

Students were incredibly impressed by the technology, and those interested in UNB were happy to discover that they could take one home and continue exploring the campus.

We were the only non-Ontario university at OUF that weekend. The goggles enabled students to visit our campuses from a distance – and it really made us stand out.

Targeted Facebook ads

Another method of deploying the goggles was through targeted Facebook ads.

First, we created a short video of UNB students using the goggles. We branded it with our #OnlyHere hashtag, and uploaded it to Facebook.

From there, we dark-posted the video to prospective Ontario students.

Along with this, we included a simple message: send us your address and we’ll send you a pair of goggles – totally free!

We had close to 30 students message us within a matter of days. Most of them were in disbelief that we would really do this, but we sent each one of them a pair of goggles. And once they received them, several students wrote back just to say thanks. 

We continue to use the goggles for when students message us about tours. It’s a great tool to have on-hand, and their potential is huge. Obviously the best case scenario is to have them come here to UNB – but sometimes they just can’t, and that’s OK. We have a stellar back-up plan.

Talk to us at brand@unb.ca.