ARU needed a Clearing campaign that would both inspire the next generation of changemakers and raise awareness about the benefits of a degree to help support the launch of their new campus.

Clearing is a highly competitive time for universities across the U.K. In 2022, ARU faced the challenge of increasing enrollment at their Cambridge and Chelmsford campuses, while also growing an audience to launch the new ARU Peterborough university (which is based in a higher education cold spot). ARU needed a Clearing campaign that would both inspire the next generation of changemakers and raise awareness about the benefits of a degree. 

The Challenge

When crafting ARU’s Clearing campaign, Net Natives knew that boosting applications for ARU Peterborough — which is located in an area with lower-than-average participation — would be the ultimate challenge. Many prospects in the region were unfamiliar with Clearing. And, as a new campus, it hadn’t had much of a chance to establish its name. Under a limited timeframe, ARU had to outline the benefits of higher education to a skeptical audience, all while continuing to meet ambitious enrollment targets for their more-established Cambridge and Chelmsford campuses. 


ARU has a record of recruiting a high proportion of students in Clearing. This year, the university hoped to achieve a significant portion of their targets for ARU Peterborough, too. Our goal was to target local audiences and help Peterborough grow, without compromising the success of the Cambridge and Chelmsford locations. 

  • Campaign Strategy
  • Research
  • Creative
  • Student Recruitment


YOY increase in home applications


YOY increase in home offers


More applications than anticipated
Our Solution

To build a successful campaign, we combined geographic targeting (from ARU’s segmentation work) and data with student-focused advertising. To increase awareness, we created a series of aspirational messaging and striking hero videos. Career-focused, real student success stories combined with supportive messaging would drive applications later in the funnel. Meanwhile, Cambridge and Chelmsford would continue to see success from previously developed messages but with refreshed creative.

The Journey

For our campaign, we wanted to appeal to local audiences around Peterborough. We started by considering their interests, which included vocational and career-focused degrees. We also considered location, focusing especially on commuter lines between Peterborough and London. A full attribution report for Peterborough was produced to show where applicants came from and what tactics, platforms, and messages resonated with them. 

When it came to visuals, Peterborough’s campus wasn’t yet developed enough to highlight in our campaign. To minimize the impact of a lack of location, creative was set within a studio location. This led to a suite of assets — flexible for all three campuses — that promoted an aspirational human approach and personal, student-centered stories. 

While advertising for Peterborough focused on prospective students, our messaging for Cambridge and Chelmsford highlighted the existing campuses and the current student experience. Images of students and the university were paired with messaging about Clearing, with language that supported the brand's caring and big-hearted tone of voice. Then, we shifted the focus to ARU by encouraging students to take action and apply. 

ARU came out of the campaign with compelling creative that played to the strengths of each campus, put a spotlight on students, and inspired hesitant prospects to apply.

"We were very satisfied with our Clearing campaign results. Net Natives worked closely with us to drive up our applications. They met with us regularly and offered solutions and advice on how to prioritize our budget and adapt to the fast-paced landscape of results day/week. They also adapted to our needs around fast-changing course priorities and supported us with recruiting to our new Peterborough campus through Clearing for the first time. Overall, it was a very successful campaign and a great partnership."

Morgan Brown, Marketing Manager at ARU

And the results?

Through a striking creative campaign based on data and insights, Net Natives delivered nearly 1,000 more applications than anticipated for Cambridge, Chelmsford, and Peterborough combined. The total home applications in Clearing were 20% up year-on-year (YOY). Meanwhile, the total home offers in Clearing saw a 29% increase YOY.