Brock University embraces critics FTW in its latest recruitment video

February 18th, 2011 Karine Joly 10 Comments

There’s been a taunt shared among students, friends and foes about Brock University, a 17,000-student university based in St Catharines (ON), Canada since the 80’s.

It’s a saying that most Brock students (prospective, current or past) have heard at some point in time.

Not a really cool way to talk about the institution, but definitely a very catchy one — due to the power of rhymes and sillyness:

If you can walk and talk, you can go to Brock

Brock University sends offers to only 25% of the people who applied. So, it’s fair to say that it takes a bit more than walking and talking to get accepted there.

Yet, when prospective students actually ask on public websites about this saying or feel compelled to blog about it in their personal corner of the Web, it might be wise to address the elephant in the virtual room.

That’s exactly what Brock University has done with its latest recruitment video, a very well-produced (yet not a budget-breaking) video released last week.

Kevin Grout, Marketing Communications Manager at Brock University, shared the link over Twitter last Friday. And, as soon as I watched the video (really a great job), I asked him a bit more information about it.

I was surprised to learn that the video hadn’t been done by an agency, so I decided to ask Kevin a few more questions about this project.

1) Can you tell us a bit more about this video? What are its goals and target audiences?

This video was done primarily as part our larger undergraduate recruitment plan. However, we see it as having institutional value: relevant to anyone who may be familiar with our University. It certainly has a goal of reputational enhancement.

2) How do you plan to promote/use it?

The video has been emailed out to all 2011 applicants, promoted through various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) and will also featured on the Brock University website. The video already has more than 8,000 hits in the first 72 hours on YouTube [Note from Karine: more than 11,000 views at the time of this writing].

3) How long did it take to create this video? How big was the team and how much did the video cost?

Turnaround was very quick. Concept pitched in late November, casting and preproduction in December, shooting in mid-January. We had a director we had done some other work with who also pitched the initial script. Some refining was done with our recruitment office. I served as Producer, another member of our team as Production Assistant. A number of volunteers from our Marketing and Communications and Recruitment offices on the day of the shoot.

Professional crew was brought in by the director, totaling about eight all together. All footage was shot in one day, with the exception of the sheep and Niagara Falls footage, which was purchased additionally. Approximately 10 on-screen student, faculty and staff volunteers.

4) Any lessons learned or tips you can share with the rest of the class?

This video was a bit risky, in that we are, in a way, embracing, and then flipping a negative picture of our University. Sometimes you have to push your own boundaries into scary territory in order to be truly effective and transparent.

So, Dear Readers, what do YOU think about this video? Would YOU have taken the risk at your institution? Do you think it was a smart move?

10 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by bloghighed, karinejoly and karinejoly, AllofE Higher Ed. AllofE Higher Ed said: College Web Editor – Brock University embraces critics FTW in its latest recruitment video via @bloghighed […]

  2. James Runkle says:

    I LOVE when a university or college takes a negative perception, addresses it head on, and turns it on it’s head! I remember an example of a viewbook from USC that addressed the joke that “USC” stood for “University of Spoiled Children”. The head of admissions put that slogan right on the cover of his viewbook. Risky? Sure? Brave? Absolutely.

    Brock’s video is fantastic because it has both a clever counter-message and a powerful video execution to support it. Great job!

  3. Danielle says:

    Well done Brock! Beautifully shot, written, great music. So hard to differentiate yourself with a recruitment video these days, but this one is really memorable and very distinctive. Great to see universities taking well-thought out and considered risks.

  4. Eric Stoller says:

    My first impression of the video: Major accessibility fail. “If you can walk…,” well, what if you’re a chair user and you can’t walk. How would you feel about an ad campaign that is framed around the initial message of “walking.” It’s a well-produced video for sure, but the message that it sends to folks with physical disabilities that impair walking isn’t very positive.

  5. Kevin Grout says:


    Really appreciate your comments, and think you raise a very valid question.

    One of the key points of the video is to show the absurdity of the original “If you can walk and talk” statement. There were very few options to accomplish that feat without at least referencing part of the saying. Admittedly, the video is much more powerful for those who are familiar with that statement, and the historical negativity that it has attempted to paint our school with.

    We did also consult with our accessibility office when developing the video. In fact, our campus was one of the first in Ontario to hire a full-time University Accessibility Coordinator, and Brock continues to be a leader in providing services for students with disabilities of all types.

    Happy to answer any other questions that you may have, but want to assure you that this video was approached with sensitivity, education, and a desire to include ALL students.

  6. Karine Joly says:

    I don’t remember if you included this in the video, but something along the lines of “if you can walk the walk” could have reinforce the fact that this is all figuratively speaking.

    Just an idea.

  7. Ted Hattemer says:

    “I was suprised to learn that the video hadn’t been done by an agency, so I decided to ask Kevin a few more questions about this project.” (spelling error in original)

    I was not *surprised* to learn that the video was done in-house. It’s the future for these types of communications products. This too was done in-house.

  8. Karine Joly says:

    Thanks for catching the typo, Ted. I’ve fixed it.
    Want to be my designated copy editor ;0)?

    Now that I think about it, I believe this was the boldness of the concept – taking the risk to address the elephant in the room – that made me believe in the first place this was done by an outside agency. I’m actually happy to see that some institutions won’t kill bold moves just because they are suggested by staff members.

    And, congratulations to your team for the video. This is a very fine piece of work.

  9. Pete Callaghan says:

    If you like the Brock University video you should also check out Olds College’s video on YouTube

  10. Pretty clever – kudos to Mr. Grout. This video made me think of an ongoing debate about the value of highly produced vs. well, the opposite of that, for sales-oriented content, especially in regards to customer (in this case, student) testimonials. The debate is that the more “slick” a production is, the more quickly the potential buyer will process this as non-authentic. There must be a sweet spot, where there’s content that is clearly not scripted but the production values aren’t so low that they detract from the viewer’s ability to absorb the message.

    Our school’s (Oregon Culinary Institute) YouTube channel features videos on all points of the spectrum:

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