Colleges Ontario Launches Obay Marketing Program

    Provocative 'Obay' campaign addresses parental influence over the
    post-secondary education choices of their children

    'My son started thinking for himself. OBAY put a stop to that.'
                                                 Colleges Ontario 'Teaser' Ad

    TORONTO, Feb. 25 /CNW/ - Students across Ontario can breathe a sigh of
relief today with the news that a new product, 'Obay', purported to stop them
thinking for themselves, or about their future, isn't for real and won't be
appearing in their parents' medicine cabinets anytime soon. A teaser campaign,
featuring fictional ads and humorous, provocative messages about parental
'mind control' has been running across province for the past few weeks. They
are part of the lead up to today's official launch of a new marketing campaign
by Colleges Ontario - the advocacy organization representing the 24 colleges
of applied arts and technology - that is targeted primarily to parents, the
group identified as having great influence when it comes to post-secondary
    "Our research shows that there is a lack of factual information and
awareness of both the programs available at the college level, and the
economic and personal benefits associated with them," says Linda Franklin,
President & CEO, Colleges Ontario. "Our goal with 'Obay' is to use a
tongue-in-cheek approach to begin to address this awareness issue, starting
with parents, the group our research showed has strong influence when it comes
to decision-making around post-secondary education. The message is to step
back and find out what your children really want, and then look at all the
postsecondary options together."
    Based on recent research, parents favour university over college as the
number one choice for their children by a margin of 3 to 1. The Obay campaign,
brought to you by the makers of 'WhyBecauseISaidSo' and 'NotUnderMyRoof', is
designed to remind parents that they should explore all the options - in many
cases, their children may be more likely to find rewarding and fulfilling
careers through college education and training.

    Research has also revealed that:

    -   98% of parents talk to their children about post-secondary education
    -   Over 90% of parents talk to other parents about how their children
        are doing in school
    -   44% of parents believe other parents exaggerate their children's
        academic accomplishments while only 17% will admit to doing that
    -   Almost 30% of the parents polled said they would be disappointed or
        embarrassed if their child went to college
    -   20% believe a university education is the only real route to a
        successful career
    -   Parents are more familiar with specific universities than they are
        with specific colleges

    Further research conducted on behalf of Colleges Ontario shows an
overwhelming public perception that college is a lesser alternative to
university. Only 33% of high school students actually go on to university
after high school yet an overwhelming majority enter high school believing
they will go to university - primarily to meet their parents' expectations.
    In a 2006 survey of senior high school students' perceptions, conducted
by Drs. Alan King and Wendy Warren of Queen's University, a majority (59%) of
all students reported that their parents expected them to attend university.
One-fifth of students who identified themselves as planning on college said
that their parents expected them to go to university.
    Beginning today, the Colleges Ontario advertising will include overlays
that feature copy that delivers a clear message to parents, such as: "Your
kids should be allowed to make their own decisions, especially when it comes
to their post secondary education." Another key message: "Sure you want what's
best for your kids, but when it comes to post-secondary education, pushing
them to do what you want isn't right" and encourages parents and students to
"explore all the options" by visiting the website,, which
showcases the exceptional range of programs offered by Ontario's colleges when
it comes to post-secondary education

    How Much Influence Do Parents Really Have?
    It's conventional wisdom that today's teenagers, given the chance, would
do the opposite of what their parents want. But while they may see themselves
as free-thinking, independent and sometimes unconventional, there is still one
area where they are heavily influenced by their parents: post-secondary
    "Parents play an integral role in their children's post-secondary
education planning, with expectations topping the list," asserts Ms. Franklin.
"A majority of parents expect their kids to go to university. As one might
expect, parental influence is the strongest if they themselves are university

    The College Option
    Students discovering their future goals may not be met at university, may
find the post-secondary education option right for them at one of the 24
Ontario colleges, and it is important that they involve their parents in the
exploration process, helping them understand that a college program that best
meets their aspirations will most likely be a better investment in their
ongoing education. The Obay campaign is designed to foster such communication
between parents and their children so that parents are more receptive to
looking at all the options available, and in particular, see the benefits that
come when their children are pursuing a program that engages and excites them.
    "This campaign is an important first step towards our goal of having
colleges seen as a viable and equitable alternative to universities,"
concludes Ms. Franklin. "More than one million students have enrolled in the
600 courses offered at Ontario Colleges and 89% of graduates find jobs in
their field of study within six months of graduating. What's important to
recognize is that while universities and colleges will continue to offer
different paths when it comes to post-secondary education, each path should be
viewed on an equal footing. In doing so, we believe both will be graduating
young men and women ready to meet the needs of Ontario's evolving labour
market and changing economy for decades to come."

    Linda Franklin is available for interviews.

For further information:

For further information: Flex PR: Laurie Hall,, (416)
696-5554 or Heather Ward,, (416) 909-4328. Additional
information about Obay is available at

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