Breaking through a crowded market


Making an impact in international markets with University of Nottingham

Getting to know the market

The University of Nottingham is the definition of an international university, with campuses in China, Malaysia and the UK. Yet, their marketing position was being challenged constantly by new and agile competitors. But that wasn’t all, Nottingham had also set themselves some ambitious internal strategic goals, including a roll out of a new brand and a new research strategy. Time was of the essence, and if we wanted to make a change, we had to act fast. Nottingham held the potential to become bigger, better and more confident and they needed our help.

Before we started, we needed to understand the state of the market and how Nottingham’s student audience felt about studying at Nottingham – what was their awareness? Their perception and sentiment? In order to understand what needed to change, we needed to discover how the audience perceived their brand.

Gathering all the data

In order to grasp how their international customers were feeling, we enacted International Brand Perceptions research, where we surveyed staff and current students and gathered panels of students from all their key markets in Malaysia and China as well as the UK. From the findings in the research, we agreed four campaign aims, that our success would be measured against. These were to:

  • Enhance reputation
  • Reposition the University in the global market
  • Showcase the refreshed brand
  • Have a positive impact on prospective students at all levels

In addition, we used social listening research, to help Nottingham to understand how the audiences perceived their social media content to enable them to make subtle changes to their approach in the future.

Now, we just had to create stand-out campaigns that would reach as many relevant people as possible in each market. We needed to talk to:

  • Prospective undergraduates
  • Prospective postgraduates
  • Research stakeholders and funders
  • Staff
  • Government and policymakers

Developing country specific strategies

The campaign also needed to translate well for all the locations, and most importantly, be engaging. Working closely with the Reputation and Brand lead as well as the Comms team, we were able to develop an integrated strategy delivering content across social, digital, and OOH channels to amplify their reach and impact.


When it came to creating the international comms, in China we focused on the specific social media and instant messenger channels that were popular in market. Channels we focused on included QQ, Qzone, WeChat and Weibo.

Using a range of advertising formats, we delivered messages through banners, In-feed, Open Splashes and Interstitials.


In Kuala Lumpur, we focused on using high impact out of home activity in the city centre.

United Kingdom

For the UK, we wanted to reach a wide range of relevant audiences, so a large format out of home campaign was the perfect answer.

We also ran a segmented audience plan alongside on the so we could reach all of our audiences in one go.

The results were fantastic

Whilst our campaign activity included traditional digital and out of home awareness, another focus was the use of ‘journalist’ style content.

And the results showed that we truly made a difference. We helped University of Nottingham change for the better.

  • Total reach – 493m impressions
  • Approximately 10,480 event attendees
  • Digital engagement- 2m tracked conversions
  • And in all 3 regions they achieved increases in spontaneous awareness

University of Nottingham international