A new advertising campaign for a small Catholic Prep school called "Prepare For Real Life" boldly states to potential young students, "You're not a princess."
The ads are certainly eliciting a reaction, which is exactly what Mercy Academy was hoping for. The Louisville, Kentucky, school for girls wanted a bold advertising campaign for fall enrollment, so they approached advertising company Doe-Anderson to help them come up with a unique way to draw young women to their curriculum.
The campaign riffs on Disney princesses, with slogans that say "Mirror, Mirror, on the wall. Be more than just the fairest of them all," and "Don't wait for a prince. Be able to rescue yourself." The campaign smells strongly of female empowerment -- and was the last thing some people expected from a small Catholic school with 550 students.
Amy Elstone, Mercy Academy's Principal, told HLN that the school needed a unique campaign to promote the way they educate young women.
"We looked at the traditional education system five years ago, saw it didn't work, and scrapped it," she said. "We've moved away from teaching methods such as rote memorization. Now, our students' grades come from how they would perform in real world situations. We help them to learn who they will become and how they can better serve their community."
When it came to developing the bold ad campaign, Mercy worked closely with Doe-Anderson to find the right way to tell their story.
"I have a 9-year-old daughter, and working on this project helped me to think about what I wanted for her," David Vawter, Doe-Anderson's creative chief officer, told HLN. "We've got to make a statement about getting girls ready to support themselves in the world."
Courtney Kempf, art director on the Mercy campaign, told HLN that she was reading her daughter a princess story one night and she realized what sort of message it was sending. She likes Disney's imagery of princesses, she said, but also hopes a campaign like this can provide alternate perspective for young women who may be "waiting for their prince to come."
"We pitched several ideas to Mercy, but this one was definitely our favorite, and in the end it was the one they chose. I give them all the credit for the strength of the idea," she said. "I hope it increases their enrollment and gets their name out there."
Elstone tells HLN that the attention they've gotten since the ads came out has been amazing, especially since they were featured on the "Today" show. While some of the feedback was reactionary, she said Mercy still stands behind the message they chose to put out there.
"If people only see the message 'You're not a princess' and don't look any further, they're missing out on the rest of the message," she said.