Manhattan Promises Potential Jaspers a Unique Experience

By Jilleen Barrett, Features Editor/Managing Editor

If you are currently a student at Manhattan College, you’ll probably recognize the phrase “Embrace the Uncommon.” These words were likely in all the emails you received from the college before you were a student here, as well as on pamphlets and of course, all over the signs that lined Manhattan College Parkway until just a few months ago.

Now, those signs boast the four pillars of the Jasper Promise: quality faculty in each of the college’s five undergraduate schools, access to New York City, internship opportunities that lead to successful careers and a vibrant campus community. And, of course, the school’s Lasallian values have a place as well.

The “Jasper Promise” and “Embrace the Uncommon” are the leading phrases of the two most recent digital campaigns. These campaigns help recruit freshman and transfer students, and are updated every few years. They are created through a collaborative effort between the provost, the admissions department and the marketing & communication department.

Lydia Gray, the assistant vice president of advancement in the marketing & communication department, told The Quadrangle that before these campaigns, there was the “Best of Both Worlds” and the “Promise of Manhattan” campaigns in 2011 and 2013. Although all digital campaigns share the same four pillars, the “Jasper Promise” was loosely based on the promises made to prospective students in 2013.

According to Benjamin Boivin, the director of undergraduate admissions, having the word “Jasper” in the campaign slogan is important in their efforts to make the school look unique. Because of the fact that no other school has a mascot with that name, Boivin says seeing the word automatically makes people curious, so they want to use it consistently.

“We see it in the Jasper Corps, we see it in the Jasper’s athletics program, we see it in the Lady Jasper’s, our women’s teams,” Boivin said. “So I think that word ‘Jasper’ helps us to identify who we are and again, differentiates us from other brands.”

A lot of other details go into the school’s campaign decisions — for example, Boivin says the “Jasper Promise” pamphlet has more of the school’s color, green, and pictures of students on campus, while the “Uncommon” campaign had more photos of downtown Manhattan. 

 “[Prospective Jaspers] want to see students that are like really in the labs and like, talking in the residence halls … obviously it’s a photoshoot, but they feel a little more authentic,” Boivin said. 

“The Jasper Promise” is also more unique, he feels.

“The difference between ‘The Uncommon’ and ‘The Jasper Promise’ is, ‘uncommon’ you can really put any college name in front of that,” Boivin said. “The Jasper Promise is like, [other colleges] couldn’t use that. That’s just ours.”

In addition to the reasons Boivin gave, campaigns change because prospective audiences change, too. Gray said the college wants to show each generation of potential Jaspers why the school might be right for them, and that redesigning the way they communicate that message can be helpful.

“What we find happening each time [a new campaign is created] is that the four core principles seem to emerge each time, and it’s our challenge then to bring them to the prospective audience in a very refreshed manner,” Gray said.

A third party agency does research for the school, looking into what high school upperclassmen, their parents and their guidance counselors want out of a four year education.

“They’re always looking in the prospective market,” Gray said. “They know what’s out there, they know what our competitors are doing, they know what colleges and universities around us are doing.”

Once the research is done and the campaign is developed, it mainly has a place online. Provost William Clyde said that although they still use print publications, billboards and emails to advertise the college, the internet gives them more of a reach.

“Let’s say you’re doing college searches, and you’re interested in engineering,” Clyde said. “Then we go ‘Okay, we’ve got something you might be interested in’. So it’s more targeted than even normal newspapers or something like that … Now we can know how many people saw it, how many people clicked on it, how many people followed through and went all the way to our website.”

Boivin has worked with over 100 colleges and universities during his career, and graduated from the college with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He says he has found that once people know what a Jasper is, the Jasper Promise becomes too enticing to pass up.

“For being such a small school, we have a very big footprint in the world,” he said. “And I think it’s kind of a sticking point for a lot of people to be called a Jasper.”