SFSU? UCSF? No. USF. Dammit.
On April 2, USF launched the Higher Standard Campaign, its latest advertising strategy to promote the recognition of the University’s values in the city of San Francisco.
The campaign’s 14 headlines have appeared on bus stops, billboards, and buildings all throughout San Francisco, as well as on the print and online editions of the San Francisco Business Times and San Francisco Chronicle. Some of the headlines include, “ Separating the word “evil” from “genius” since 1855” and ‘University of the Best City Ever.” The ads include the university’s full name, logo and tagline: Change the World from Here. The campaign also includes advertising swag such as t-shirts, bracelets, and stickers.
The Office of Communications and Marketing (OCM) developed the campaign in partnership with Hub Strategy, an advertising agency in San Francisco. The OCM aims to increase the visibility and strengthen the reputation of the university through media and public relations, social media, publications, web services and marketing. Aside from the campaign, the OCM was in charge of the launch of USF’s new logo and tagline: Change the World from Here.
David Macmillan, vice president of the Office of Communications and Marketing, led and executed the campaign in colllaboration with Hub Strategy.“There is so much advertising clutter in downtown, and the agency had a different approach where they succeeded in getting the message we wanted across,” he said.
Macmillan want to help clear up the confusion between schools in San Francisco. “We wanted to differentiate and set ourselves apart. What sets us apart from other universities in the city is our values,” he said. “Academic excellence is not enough at USF because it is a Jesuit university.”
Dan Erwin, project manager of the Office of Communications and Marketing, encouraged students from the advertising department to get involved through collaboration with advertising professor Greg Pabst.
“It is important to get involved in the campaign on-campus, and not just off campus,” Erwin said.
Students in Pabst’s advertising class developed their own headlines for the campaign. The department chose the top three headlines to advertise all over campus, through digital signage and the San Francisco Foghorn.
Contest winners included Kirsten Macfadyen, a sophomore advertising student, whose slogan, “Occupying San Francisco since 1855,” was inspired by the recent Occupy movements.
“I don’t think it necessarily represents USF. However, I think it connects USF to this Occupy movement. That makes USF relevant,” she said. “In a weird way we’re saying, ‘Well you guys are just now occupying San Francisco, but we’ve been here since 1855, trying to make a change.’”
Macfayden views the Higher Standard Campaign as an original, modern way to represent the university.
“It’s catchy! A lot of the catch phrases are really funny and witty. I think when people think of USF, sometimes they think of an old boring Catholic school and I think this campaign lifts that stereotype and allows people to see that we have character,” she said.
Gabriella Kirkland, a junior english student, said that the campaign takes the Jesuit values of the university and makes them accessible for the student body and outside community.
“USF is made up of an innovative, intelligent, diverse, and creative student body. I believe that this campaign represents this student body incredibly well,” she said.
To gain students’ feedback on the campaign, students in the fine arts department will also install campaign advertisements and a space for fellow Dons to contribute their thoughts on the C.S.I’s perimeter fence. This will be done with help from Eric Hongisto, associate professor and director of fine arts, and Father Tom Lucas S.J., professor of art and architecture.
Mia Aguillon, a junior advertising major and the student intern on the Higher Standard Campaign, worked very closely with Erwin and Macmillan in developing strategies to integrate the campus community. One of Aguillon’s biggest tasks was incorporating students to develop a successful campaign launch.
“Since I am an undergraduate student here at USF, I have some insight on how to communicate the new campaign with other students, and try to get them to interact with their school’s new advertising endeavor.”
The campaign’s intended audience is not prospective students, a common misconception of people on campus, Aguillon said.
According to the Higher Standard Campaign website, the primary target audience is San Francisco’s opinion leaders, including executives and managers in the business, civic, and nonprofit sectors whose ideas and behavior serve as a model to others. The campaign will be concentrated in downtown to attract their attention.
Overall, Aguillon thinks that the campaign represents the University’s values and feels that the campaign has succeeded in serving its purpose to build the visibility of the university.
“I think that the campaign is a great way to build a stronger sense of unity amongst the community, because now people can go out in San Francisco and identify with the ads that they are seeing and be proud of the school that they go to,” she said.
The ads will remain posted only during the academic year, through May, and between September and October.
For more information about the Higher Standard Campaign, visit hwww.usfca.edu/higherstandard.
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