Modernizing Perceptions of Jewish Day Schools

Overview

Norcal Jewish Day Schools is a consortium of nine Northern California Jewish Day Schools working together to drive relevance and increased enrollment.

Knowing that each individual school faced varying challenges in attracting new families, yet ultimately shared the same goals, they came to Media Cause to help them understand the current perceptions of Jewish Day Schools among their prospective audiences and develop a multi-channel paid marketing campaign to shift the tide.

Client

The Outcome

Based on our deep audience research, we developed an insights-driven campaign that created a new collaborative brand for the schools, drove 47,000 clicks to the newly created microsite, and drove 877 “Apply Now” actions, helping to raise awareness of, and enrollment in, Jewish Day Schools in the Bay Area.

29M

700+

47K

current and prospective parents and alumni surveyed

ad impressions by parents in the Sacramento and Bay Area.

clicks to the microsite during the 4-month campaign

The Challenge

Faced with declining enrollment rates and difficulty attracting families outside of their typical circles, nine Northern California Jewish Day Schools applied for a grant that would fund an unprecedented experiment: a marketing collaboration between schools to help drive awareness and enrollment. As part of this effort, the schools wanted us to help them dig deeper into what beliefs or challenges prevented prospective families from enrolling. Additionally, they wanted to raise awareness of the benefits of a Jewish Day School education through a targeted media campaign.

The Strategy

We set out to first conduct audience research, speaking to families and school leadership to understand existing perceptions, barriers, and needs. We then conducted a cultural landscape analysis to understand Jewish demographics, lifestyles, and attitudes in Northern California. 

Our research led to a powerful insight: Families perceived the schools to be too homogenous and traditional, especially in the context of changing Bay Area Jewish demographics and lifestyles. Additionally, the schools had a reputation for being overly focused on teaching Jewish values—at the expense of academics.

While each school differed in specific programming and attributes, their challenges—and value propositions—were incredibly similar. We knew that to change perceptions of Jewish Day Schools as a whole, we needed to market the schools as a single entity. So we created an entirely new brand, NorCal Jewish Day Schools, to represent the consortium. Once the brand was established, we developed a campaign concept that would counter many of the outdated beliefs held by local families about Jewish Day Schools. The campaign positioned the schools as “more than” many parents expected—more modern, innovative, focused on academics, inviting, and diverse.

We then executed the campaign in two phases: first, to increase awareness and change perception; second, to drive interest and enrollment inquiries.

The Implementation

We conducted parent interviews and online surveys with over 700 participants across the school’s ecosystem. Through the information we gathered, we gained a deep understanding of current associations surrounding Jewish Day Schools and identified ways to shift how parents perceive the value they bring—both culturally and academically.

We conducted research to understand trends in education and Jewish lifestyles within Bay Area communities. This led us to uncover shifting attitudes around what Jewishness looks like and families’ evolving needs and expectations regarding their children’s education. 

Our primary and secondary research led to us creating a unified value proposition across the collaborative, insight-driven creative brief, campaign messaging tone, and paid media direction.

We needed to develop a campaign concept that could collectively position NorCal Jewish Day Schools as not just “another option” for Bay Area families but as a category of education that defies the norm and exceeds expectations. However, because each school also had its own unique characteristics, we also needed a construct that would allow for customization and flexibility within an overarching message. 

Our campaign concept and tagline, “There’s More Here,” became the unifying rally for all nine schools, helping to change common misperceptions while inspiring curiosity and interest.

To communicate the schools’ modern personality and educational approach visually, we avoided typical “stock student photography” that would get lost in a sea of sameness. Instead, we used bright colors, bold type, and striking line illustrations to communicate the schools’ forward-thinking nature, providing an open canvas for compelling messaging.

Once the concept was defined and designed, we brought the overarching “There’s More Here” campaign to life across various channels, including a custom microsite and paid media.

 

After creating the NorCal Jewish Day Schools brand to represent all nine participating schools, we needed to develop a campaign concept that could collectively position them as not just “another option” for Bay Area families, but as a category of education that defies the norm and exceeds expectations. However, because each school also had its own unique characteristics, we also needed a construct that would allow for customization and flexibility within an overarching message. 

Our campaign concept and tagline, “There’s More Here,” became the unifying rally for all nine schools, helping to change common misperceptions while inspiring curiosity and interest.

To communicate the schools’ modern personality and educational approach visually, we avoided typical “stock student photography” that would get lost in a sea of sameness. Instead, we used bright colors, bold type, and striking line illustrations to communicate the schools’ forward-thinking nature, providing an open canvas for compelling messaging.

Once the concept was defined and designed, we brought the overarching “There’s More Here” campaign to life across various channels, including a custom microsite and paid media.

NorCal Jewish Day Schools’ audience was incredibly specific, both in terms of geography and profile. To reach them most effectively, we developed a media plan that would target individual zip codes surrounding each of the nine schools while cross-referencing relevant demographic factors and personal interests. We looked for media partners and platforms that would allow this level of specificity and developed a plan that included paid search, display, native ads, social media, and targeted emails. 

We executed the campaign in two phases, with the first geared toward building awareness and changing perceptions of NorCal Jewish Day Schools. Our goals for this phase, which ran during the Fall information-gathering season, were impressions, reach, and click-throughs to the microsite. 

Our second phase incorporated retargeting to bring NorCal Jewish Day Schools back to the top of our audiences’ minds and drive qualified leads to request school tours, interviews, or submit their applications before the early January enrollment deadline

While each phase had its own unique goals, the overall initiative was incredibly successful. 

The campaign’s ads were seen over 29 million times by parents in the Bay Area and Sacramento and drove 47K clicks to the microsite. Google Search saw a cost-per-click of $2.66, far below the benchmark of $4.22, which suggests that our ads were highly relevant and resonant with our target audience. And our eTarget emails had an average click-through rate of 9.88%, compared to the industry average of 0.9%.