Jack Sachs and Alphabetical introduce a cast of exuberant characters to welcome UAL’s students back

The Big Welcome campaign was created by the brand agency in collaboration with the UAL graduate to ease students back into university life in the face of uncertainty due to the pandemic.

24 September 2021

We know now that the nature of higher education has changed irrevocably over the course of the pandemic. With more students going online than ever before, the London-based agency Alphabetical embarked on a digital-first campaign for University of the Arts London (UAL): the Big Welcome. The aim is to welcome students back with open arms, whether that’s online or in-person, with the help of illustrator Jack Sachs.

The university wanted to make it easier for students to settle into the new term, encouraging them to forge relationships with each other, whilst delivering key information about their courses and time at university. It can be hard to remember the excitement of starting university following almost two years of a pandemic that saw students shut themselves away from their in-person learning and each other. But it’s not impossible: the university wanted to do everything it could to remind students of the excitement and sense of anticipation when starting university, or coming back to school for another year. And Alphabetical wanted to ensure that all students felt involved.

“We didn’t want people to feel like they were missing out on anything,” says Bob Young, creative partner at Alphabetical. The agency hopes its approach gives all the various UAL communications a “distinctive look and feel” which imbues a welcoming and fun persona, “focusing on the diverse characters, personalities and interests of UAL students.”

Young continues that his aim for the campaign is to be fun, poppy and character-led, with unique abstract characters. “It works across all digital platforms,” he continues, “which has become increasingly crucial over the past year and a half, but it has the capacity to be rolled out for other environmental communications and promotional merchandise in the future.”

Jack Sachs & Alphabetical: Big Welcome (Copyright © University of the Arts London, 2021)

3D animator and illustrator Jack Sachs was brought along to devise a strategy and creative response which is universally inclusive, and that would appeal to people attending the various artistic courses. No small feat since UAL consists of Wimbledon, Chelsea and Camberwell Colleges of Arts, London College of Communication, London College of Fashion, and Central Saint Martins. A Camberwall graduate himself, Sachs, whose work has been picked up by the likes of Nike, Apple, and Spotify, to name but a few, created a series of characters that he hopes every student could find a connection with.

Alphabetical's cast of characters can be seen across UAL’s social media platforms as well as its website, in email correspondence, on animated screens around the campuses and on posters, greeting students everywhere they go. “I really wanted to inject a bit of comedy, and in some small way brighten up the experience for freshers, making it less dystopian after such a weird year and a half,” says Jack. “It needed to be cheerful and relatable, and by keeping it abstract there can be new cast additions when the need arises.”

In the name of true immersion into, and inclusion of, UAL’s student community, the team at Alphabetical put out an open call asking for current students and alumni to present their portfolios. “So many people from all disciplines responded,” says Young. “In the end we went with Jack because the tone of his work was absolutely perfect. The bright colours, distinctive style and, most of all, his ability to capture distinct personalities in his character design meant he sailed to the top of the shortlist.” The campaign will run out of home across physical assets across campuses, and online across all the university’s digital platforms.

GalleryJack Sachs & Alphabetical: Big Welcome (Copyright © University of the Arts London, 2021)

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Jack Sachs & Alphabetical: Big Welcome (Copyright © University of the Arts London, 2021)

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.

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