Strategic marketing campaign seeks to stir interest in the university

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In 2008, Pacific’s marketing team began the rebranding of the university and initiating what would be known as the integrated marketing strategy. Now, advertisements for Pacific University can be found anywhere from Google Ads, Facebook, in publications such as The Oregonian and Oregon Newsweek, or even on the side of a Max train.

It used to be rare to see a Pacific University ad anywhere, but in the last few years, with the boost in enrollment, more funds are being committed to an extensive advertising campaign. With $257,000 to work with for the year, which includes a one time fund of $150,000 for start up costs and technology, the team set forth to diversify Pacific’s visibility with a mix of various marketing tactics.

In addition to the new Boxer logo, a host of new advertisements were designed to help increase awareness of Pacific University by an external audience. These included print and online advertisements and the strengthening of community relationships and the development of partnerships. “Outdoor” ads were also utilized and include the 32 bus tails and two max train murals.

The multichannel process tries to fulfill five goals set by the marketing department. The goals address increasing visibility and awareness, strengthening Pacific’s presence in the Portland metro area, engaging more prospective students and their families, fundraising and building upon and expanding Pacific’s community outreach.

Creative Marketing Director Cecily Sakrison, a key contributor to the rebranding process that began in 2008, said that the rebranding was not intended to shift Pacific’s image. Rather, the team wanted to establish a more clear, streamlined vision of Pacific that is translatable to external audiences.

Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications Tammy Spencer explained that while the university is made up of different colleges, majors and centers, the goal is to have one main brand that gets audiences looking at the broader organization that is Pacific University.

“There were too many different logos,” agreed Sakrison, who said that at one point, there were about 40 different logos representing different facets of the university.

The team interviewed faculty, staff, students and community members for their opinions on what the university is and how it should be represented. Ultimately they decided that, when getting the university’s name out into the world, less is more.

The new campaign, which officially launched on July 1, 2010, became more about encouraging the audience to engage with the university instead of trying to include tons of information about the university. This involves directing potential students to the university, either to the Facebook page, the campuses, through the phone or on the website.

“Our goal wasn’t to say everything about the university, because you can’t do that on the back of a bus or in a newspaper ad,” said Spencer. “The campaign is just as much or more about who we’re speaking to than it is about us.”

According to Spencer, when students in the Portland metro area look into colleges, they’re looking at Lewis and Clark College, Willamette University and the University of Oregon. She said that the goal for the integrated marketing strategy is to get Pacific University’s name thrown in for consideration.

While many college or university ads incorporate images of “smiling students,” or extensive paragraphs describing highlights of the programs, the marketing team tried a different approach.

One of the new ads features the mantra “learn, see, teach, heal,” each word is meant to represent one of the colleges: Arts and Sciences, Optometry, Education and Health Professions respectively. Sakrison, the designer of the ads, said that she wanted to make the ads stand out from other university ads and pursued a look that was bold, yet simple. According to the numbers, it seems to be working.

Spencer said that there has been a significant increase of visitors to the website from Facebook and a 31 percent increase of traffic from Google since July 1. Overall, traffic to the university website has increased 33 percent in unique visitors.

“That’s what you want a board member to see,” said Spencer, who added that the new campaign was generating a lot of buzz and positive comments.

Currently, the print ads run in newspapers: The Oregonian, College Fair, The Willamette Weekly, The Forest Grove News Times, and The Hillsboro Argus; magazines: Portland Monthly, Horizon Airlines, Alaskan Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and Oregon Newsweek; on the radio with Oregon Public Broadcasting and online with Google ads and Facebook.

In order to keep Pacific University’s name on people’s lips, Spencer said she believes the marketing effort needs to stay active. She explained that an effective marketing campaign is consistent and shouldn’t be extensive one year, while limited the next. Spencer said that she’d like to see $150,000 fixed into the marketing team’s budget and will continue to ask for it, but is unsure at this time whether or not that number will stay the same.


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