Not Your Typical Ad Campaign

Ryerson University’s “Not An Old Boy” campaign highlights its nontraditional students.

The best ad campaigns focus on what’s special about their products. A new ad campaign designed for the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, takes this strategy to heart.

The school wanted to highlight the fact that, as one of Canada’s youngest business schools, it has a fresh and lively outlook on business. So it launched the “Not An Old Boy” campaign, which consists of print and video ads that feature diverse students and recent graduates who look like anything but the traditional three-piece-suit Wall Street mainstay. They sport T-shirts and tattoos and explain how their unconventional paths brought them to business school.

“To me, ‘Not An Old Boy’ embodies TRSM’s open and accepting nature,” says Sara Mohammed, one of the MBA candidates featured in the campaign (pictured in the ad below).

The “Not An Old Boy” campaign launched in September and will continue through the 2017–2018 school year. It was created by Bob Ramsay of Ramsay Inc., in collaboration with Paul Haslip of HM&E Design.

To choose participants to appear in the nine videos, the school worked with administrators in the MBA program to find students who had compelling stories to share. “Really, it was those students telling us about their experience with the MBA program that shaped the themes of the campaign,” says Paul Cantin, director of marketing and communications. “They articulated so well our values of inclusiveness, diversity, and collaboration.”

Videos have been posted online at a dedicated website and featured on the school’s social media channels; banner ads link to the campaign on the school’s homepage. Print versions appear in vehicles such as program booklets at sponsored events. More visibility has come from large-format posters hung in the school’s building in the heart of downtown Toronto. The school also planned to place posters across the city’s subway system.

“Beyond that, we are using a network of digital screens in office tower elevators and walkways across Toronto,” says Cantin.

For schools wanting to try a similar promotion, Cantin has this advice. “Trust that your students will have the best perspective on your school and what you have to offer. And have confidence that you cannot have better representatives of your brand than the students themselves. They will exceed your expectations! Our students are the best, and sharing their story is a pleasure and an honor.”

To see videos from the campaign, visit