Dating back to 1936, Vancouver Island University was Nanaimo’s first vocational training schools. In 2008 the school began operating as a university with four campuses throughout Vancouver Island. They wanted to increase the exposure and pervasiveness of their brand whilst reinforcing that VIU is now a University rather than a trade school and college. It was time for them to adopt a creative strategy and authentic approach to earn them a spot as an industry leader.


Taking to Instagram – a highly under-utilized platform for University brands at the time – we launched the #ilearnhere campaign. It allowed youth with similar values to VIU to share their creativity on Instagram and help build the VIU brand and community. Instagram was the perfect platform for their younger target demographic, and to use it as the main platform for the campaign before any other social platform was a bold decision. And since VIU was completely new to the Instagram platform, we partnered with Instagram celebrities who shared similar values to VIU in order to introduce the organization onto the platform in a genuine and engaging way.


By first defining their values and benefits which VIU provided, we opened the door for potential and current students who identified with those same values to join the brand, not just choose it. It allowed students an opportunity to define what VIU was to them and share that with the outside world, which generated authentic stories and photos that were real and relatable. Instagram was the perfect medium as the social media platform had surged with users in the age demographic we were targeting.


#ilearnhere exceeded initial measurement numbers by as much 300 times. In a span of six weeks, over 1600 #ilearnhere photos were shared generating over 600,000 impressions. #ilearnhere has become a vital part of the VIU brand, where students can openly share their stories and have their support be realized and rewarded through VIU reposts and engagements. The campaign was awarded the 2014 IABC Gold Quill Award, as well as the CPRS Award of Excellence. VIU was the only University to win the latter.

Photos tagged with #ilearnhere in 6 weeks
Impressions with a limited media buy budget
"The concept…was perfectly situated in the pocket of our target audience and, as a result, the campaign was overwhelmingly successful."
-Debra Jacklin, Strategic Marketing Manager,
Vancouver Island University