Recruiting the right students

TN Uo S Unstoppable
University of Salford


With around 20,000 students, the University of Salford works with industry partners to ensure every aspect of its teaching focusses on applicable skills and work experience. In an ever more competitive market for undergraduate applicants, the University needed to continually extend its reach with potential students and increase attendance to open days.


Despite improvements in its rankings, the University was continually overshadowed in terms of fame, spend and reputation by its neighbours in Manchester and Liverpool. Consequently, it continued to be perceived as a fall-back option by students, rather than a preferred choice.

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In the UK, a new generation was reaching adulthood, and there were signs of a shift in attitudes from the previous ‘millennials’ to being much more self-reliant, focussed and pragmatic. From delving deeper than generational labels, we found individuals all too aware of the uncertain economic, employment and environmental prospects they would face in the next decade. And we found an inspiring amount of dedication to self-improvement and determination to face those challenges.

Yet competitor universities continued to promote an idealised view of studying and a promise of seemingly easy success after graduation.


The opportunity for the University of Salford was to forgo competing on reputation, and forge a stronger emotional affinity with this new generation of students. Reflecting the attitudes of the audience, championing determination and resilience, and demonstrating how the University’s industry-based education helps them acquire the skills the future will demand of them.

The ‘Become Unstoppable’ campaign celebrates the dedication and determination of this generation, in an honest and empowering tone that set it apart from competing university communications. The recently refreshed University branding was central to the execution to make it unmistakeably Salford.

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Fully integrated across digital, outdoor, TV and cinema, the campaign was the University’s most successful to date despite a reduced spend from previous years. It achieved record engagement levels, record attendance at open days and significant YOY increase in applications. Based on its impact, the campaign was refreshed for a second year.

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University of Salford campaign results
University of Salford, Become Unstoppable Social Media iPhone example
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“By taking the time to understand our culture, True North were able to create a wide-ranging campaign that helped us stand out in a crowded marketplace. Their creative direction and results-driven approach has made them a pleasure to work with.”
Andrea Green, Head of Studio, University of Salford
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