Three And A Triage

Back in 2013, we took a decade’s worth of our experiences working with higher ed institutions, added a generous helping of insights gleaned from our many consumer clients, and distilled the resulting stew into our first book, Three and a Tree. Named after the painfully clichéd photographs that appear on so many university materials (three students smiling into the camera from a sunlit quad), the book has helped many marketers avoid the pitfalls that we’ve had the privilege/heartache to witness time and time again.

Since writing Three and a Tree, we’ve helped universities navigate campus crises, come to terms with the common app, and wrestle with the increased demand for dispersing content over an ever-increasing stable of social media platforms. As the challenges and their consequences continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, we realized it was time for a sequel. Enter Three and a Triage.

(And hey, you can get your copy here:

Unlike our first book, this one features a series of essays by over a dozen 160 staff members. And if that clichéd but benign trio of grinning kids informed the title of our first book, then Triage clearly takes its cues from the general atmosphere of crisis and ennui that have seemed to permeate every aspect of our culture for the last few years— roughly since the passing of David Bowie and Prince, those dual glues-that-held-the-universe-together. And while we wanted to acknowledge that feeling of dread on the cover, we also wanted to add a note of hope — that whatever the challenges your university is facing, maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem. Hence our dramatic cover reveal— the adorable kitten hanging on for dear life above an uncertain future is (*SPOILER ALERT*) in fact basking in the sunlit glow of an enchanted fairyland. (This artwork also constitutes a solid pitch for that coveted Lisa Frank account.)

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Provost Mittens (pictured above) has some serious qualms about the changing higher ed landscape…
TAAT_insidekitten copyCaption: … or does she? Looks like yield is up and all’s well on Mittens’ bucolic if somewhat hallucinatory campus!

This project allowed us to tap deeply into the pool of talent at the agency; the team relished the opportunity to detour into editorial illustration, and their enthusiasm shows in the vibrant and clever work that accompanies each article.

TAAT_austin_spreadIllustration by Austin Lotz. Considering the piece was about content creation for social media, it was tempting to intentionally misspell Austin’s surname Lolz.


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Illustration by Tim Gough. Tim rarely gets to insert sentient weather systems into his client work, so this commission was a welcome change.


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Illustration by Justin Miller. If this illustration is to be taken literally, the tuition of this particular institution comes to three dollars. Feel free to sleep on that FAFSA deadline!

Quotes from some of the leading practitioners in higher ed are interspersed between the articles— these provide both a visual break in the layout, and more importantly, a welcome change in point of view.

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We’re already brainstorming around Volume Two of the journal— discussing what worked and what didn’t, and how we can make the next installment an even more insightful, educational, and entertaining resource. What we don’t know is what we’ll write about next. But while we’re all hoping for a calm, stable 2018, one thing is certain—knowing higher ed as we do, we’re sure we’ll have plenty to write about.

One more time for the people in the back:


Darryl Cilli—Co-founder
Shannon Slusher—Co-founder
John Campanella— CEO
Greg Ash—Co-CCO
Cory McCall—Co-CCO
Timothy O’Donnell—Creative Director (Book Design)
Kristin McManus—Associate Creative Director (Copy Editing)
Including articles from John Campanella, Cory McCall, Greg Ash, David Burden, Ryan Brown, Kim Hallman, Anthony Robinson, Kris Blake and Jill Spradley.
And illustrations from Tim Gough, Justin Miller, Kyle Ferino, Greg Puglese, PJ Crisanti, Courtney Brown, Jeremie Rose Wimbrow, Eric Haag, Justin Spinozzi, Robb Leef, Austin Lotz, Matt Gribben.
Lauren Sylvester—Group Revenue Director (Project Management)
Beth Julian—Production Manager
Lindsay S. Woodcock—Print Production Artist
Bryan Sheffield—Lead Photographer + Art Buyer (Retouching)

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