New York Institute of Technology


New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) is a private research university with two main campuses in New York State – one in Manhattan and one in Old Westbury on Long Island. NYIT enrolls just under 8,000 total full-time students across its campuses. As a dynamic, highly-ranked, and accredited not-for-profit university, NYIT is committed to educating the next generation of leaders, inspiring innovation, and advancing entrepreneurship.


  • Industry: Education
  • Location: New York, NY and Old Westbury, NY
  • Size: 7,935 Full-time students


The Ask

The ask of the branding campaign was to change NYIT’s historical reputation as a trade school to a new perception as an up-and-coming institute for academia. The campaign focused on individual professors, students and alumni that were pushing the boundaries in their respective fields.

The Challenge

In 2015, NYIT launched a memorable yet controversial creative campaign that many deemed as offensive, mocking and irreverent to blue-collar workers. As a result, sentiment about the university suffered and application/enrollment numbers followed suit.  The 2014-2016 campaign produced a period of decline in enrollment for first-year students. Students who were accepted also weren’t choosing to actually attend NYIT.   Coupled with a new creative theme, a fresh approach in  the  platform selection and sequence of messaging was needed to overcome brand resistance.

Why it Worked

The Approach

Our approach to this campaign was to place ads in contexts that made prospective students feel seen, and made them feel like NYIT was a way for them to be part of creating the school’s future. This included influencer integrations within YouTube, digital display contextual placements in relevant trade publications, and list targeting of feeder schools based on past enrollment data.

The Solution

By segmenting prospective students into areas of interest, we were able to sequentially tell a story of the long term return realized from an NYIT degree.  In  doing so we kept the campaign top-of-mind among prospects across multiple touch-points, localized the message, and incited action through timely CTA’s.


Campaign Results

As a result of this campaign, NYIT garnered a significant increase in their site traffic, number of qualified applicants, and a reduction in students transferring out of the school. The new campaign reversed application downsloping trends in just one year, and continued this momentum for another two years. Additionally, NYIT saw their highest number of applicants (10,679) and accepted students (8,091). Lastly, the university was recognized within the Top 50 Regional Schools in the North. From what began as a reputational rebrand and recruitment-driven strategy, NYIT was proven to be the institute to watch and learn from with the help of their creative partners and ESM’s digital media strategy.


Increase in Qualified Students


Retention Overall YoY


Best Regional Universities in the North