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D-plus symbol removed

The Drake Advantage advertising initiative will no longer carry the D+ symbol. Changed last Thursday, the Drake Advantage site now features Drake alone and the plus symbol alone, one after the other.

The graphics were changed in response to the negative attention concerning the D+ symbol, Drake University President David Maxwell said in an e-mail to the Drake community. He said the core messages of the campaign are powerful and compelling, and that resulting data shows high school students respond well to the initiative.

“From an admissions perspective, it seems to be a resounding success,” Maxwell said. He has received reports from admissions staff and guidance counselors saying the D+ material stands out from other schools’ materials, and students are actually picking them up and reading them. “We obviously didn’t anticipate the negative response from those not in the target audience.”

The D+ graphic was picked up by blogs online and received criticism. Many thought the ad campaign portrayed Drake as a substandard school.

“We should have anticipated that; we should have looked at everything,” Maxwell said.
The challenge was to change the graphic while still maintaining the intent of the campaign, said Debra Lukehart, executive director for marketing and communications at Drake.

“We believe very strongly that the campaign is not the issue, the appearance of the grade is what is causing the concern,” Lukehart said.

Maxwell said he has received well over 100 responses in the past 24 hours regarding the changed website, and 90 to 95 percent appreciate the faculty being so responsive in dealing with their concerns. Only about five people weren’t satisfied with the response.

“In the long run, everybody knows we’re not a D+ school,” Maxwell said. “We need to do a better job of telling that story.”

Photo: Drake University Website

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