Section: News

Love Kenyon? Admissions is betting that ‘You Will’

YouTube screenshot
Peter Falls ’14 was one of a handful of students to appear in “You Will,” the College’s latest marketing video.

By Phoebe Roe

This year, roughly 100,000 prospective Kenyon students received an email from Kenyon’s Office of Admissions that, when opened, immediately began playing the new “You Will” marketing video, featuring panoramic views of the Kenyon campus and interviews with professors and students. The video is part of Admissions’ move to update their image to appeal to new students through web and print ads.

Chris Davis, a video producer in the the College’s Office of Public Affairs, wrote, produced and directed the video. Planning began last summer when it became clear that Kenyon’s previous marketing video, released in 2003, was outdated. Admissions compiled a list of messaging points to be featured in the new video and Davis got to work. “I tried to think of a way to introduce these characters and bring you into this world without the viewer thinking they’re being marketed to,” Davis said.

Of the $60,000 budget for recruiting used by the Admissions Office every year, $20,000 went towards the six-minute “You Will” video. The video is featured on the Admissions website and in emails to prospective students, while the theme is used for print ads. To justify the cost of the video, Kenyon tracked what percentage of emails were opened and that resulted in visits to the College’s website.

Last year’s “Picture Yourself” campaign saw 25.3 percent of the emails opened, and 2.8 percent of the opened emails were clicked through. This year’s campaign had 37.3 percent of the emails opened by prospective students, and 3.9 percent of the emails clicked through.

“The ultimate goal is that it lands with prospective students and that it’s reaching some people,” Davis said.

The new video features Kenyon students discussing the components that they believe make Kenyon special, with the bookended storyline of a student driving to Kenyon supposedly to pursue a love interest, until it is revealed that the student is in love with Kenyon itself. “We didn’t hire a director, we didn’t hire a producer, we didn’t hire an ad agency, we didn’t hire editors,” Davis said. He and his interns filmed the video with minimal support from off-campus resources.

“A huge part of our increase can be attributed to how we present ourselves on the web now,” Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jennifer Delahunty said. Delahunty is referring to the increase in the number of Kenyon applicants this year — up 63 percent from last year, at 6,547 applications. Though Delahunty attributes 40 percent of the increase to this year’s controversial eliminiation of supplemental essay, she believes roughly 20 percent of the applicant increase can be attributed to a more successful marketing strategy. “Some schools don’t do a search, they don’t do a campaign like we do. But we’re in Ohio, we have to try harder,” Delahunty said.

Additional videos will be released in the near future with more of a focus on individual departments within Kenyon.

“Our whole image that we’re trying to convey is that we take learning very seriously but we don’t take ourselves very seriously,” Delahunty said.  “We try to convey the culture of Kenyon through our materials.”


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