Monday, April 22, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 135


 
 









 

Ad campaign builds the image of UH

By Ray Hafner
Daily Cougar Staff

Maybe it's the deep hazel eyes. Maybe it's the shiny gold coat. Or maybe it's just the sight of a 15-foot tall cougar staring at commuters.


Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar


A billboard along Highway 59-South promotes the University and its partnership with area businesses. The ad is part of the University's image
campaign.

Whatever it may be, Shasta and her serious stare have become the centerpieces of a successful five-year, $5 million advertising campaign
designed to improve the University's image in and around Houston.

Seen on billboards, television, national newspapers, magazines and even the Internet, the now ubiquitous cougar is there to send a clear
message: UH provides quality education through solid programs and educators.

"My message is not that this program or that program is good, but that the whole is good," said Wendy Adair, vice chancellor for University
relations. Adair has spearheaded the project since it was conceived more than three years ago.

"With all the advertising out there, you change people's perceptions through repetition," Adair said. Recognizing that, officials committed to a
"branding" campaign guaranteed to spend at least $1 million per year for a five-year period.

The campaign, launched in February 2000, aims specifically at what Adair calls "influencers." Those include not just business leaders but
legislators, researchers, high school counselors and human resources managers.

Without enough funding to conduct market research prior to the launch, research was conducted at the end of the first year and already some
positive results were being seen.

According to a presentation that will be made to the UH System Board of Regents on May 6, the results of the 2000 study showed that of people
who had seen ads, 71 percent of community leaders, 68 percent of faculty and staff and 49 percent of students could recall key messages in the
ads. Typically, a 25 percent recall rate is considered good.

The 2001 results showed further increases. Unaided awareness of UH jumped most significantly among key executives (48 to 55 percent) and
human resource managers (57 to 75 percent).

Tops among the messages recalled were the "Learning. Leading." tagline, the quality of education and the cougar image.

The placement aims at business people, with ads running in the Business and News sections of the Houston Chronicle. Ads have also run in
The Wall Street Journal and Fortune and Newsweek magazines. Television ads are generally shown during evening newscasts or weekend
sports.

If not most prominent, then certainly most expensive are the ads on television. So far four faculty members have been featured in the
commercials, produced at a cost of about $100,000 each.

Two recently featured faculty members were Alex Ignatiev of the physics department and Elizabeth Brown-Guillory in the English department.

Both commercials were hard but exciting to film, the educators said. Ignatiev blasted off into outer space for his ad, while Brown-Guillory played
four versions of herself. They were glad they could "make some major contribution to the reputation of the University," Ignatiev said.

"I think that the ad is working," Brown-Guillory said, adding that she gets recognized often now.

Another aspect of the campaign was the "Shasta loves ..." ads. These ads, created by Watson Riddle, the director of the publications
department, were inpired by a sign he put on his door. Since then Shasta has been seen expressing UH's amorous intentions for everything
from the Houston Chronicle to Tony Mandola's sandwich shop. "It totally, completely popped out of my head," Riddle said.

Numerous billboards now line Houston's freeways. Bearing messages like "Administaff builds businesses with Cougars" and "Duke Energy
generates what's next with Cougars" the signs are "co-branding," allowing UH to lessen costs.

After narrowing a pool of possible advertising companies down to two, McCann-Erickson was chosen. Adair said it was because of their extra
effort to test ideas and that they scrapped the angle they liked in favor of one that tested better. Early taglines included "Not just learning, but
leading."

"We wanted it to be clever and appealing but we also wanted to make a difference," said Adair. That difference has been the cougar image. 

Adair added that studies say UH has achieved the same level of penetration in Houston as a national campaign spending $40 million.

"Marketing is a fairly new concept, especially for public universities," Adair said. Since UH launched the campaign Houston Baptist University
has revamped its campaign and St. Thomas University has began to run ads.

"I want to be in the running with the UTs and the A&Ms," Adair said. It seems to be working. Only UT and A&M have generated more awareness
among most audiences. UH is even more recognizable in some areas.

With three more years and $3 million left, Adair has time and funding to achieve that goal.

Maybe it's the deep hazel eyes. Maybe it's the shiny gold coat. Or maybe it's just the sight of a 15-foot tall cougar staring at commuters.

Whatever it may be, Shasta and her serious stare have become the centerpieces of a successful five-year, $5 million advertising campaign
designed to improve the University's image in and around Houston.

Seen on billboards, television, national newspapers, magazines and even the Internet, the now ubiquitous cougar is there to send a clear
message: UH provides quality education through solid programs and educators.

"My message is not that this program or that program is good, but that the whole is good," said Wendy Adair, vice chancellor for University
relations. Adair has spearheaded the project since it was conceived more than three years ago.

"With all the advertising out there, you change people's perceptions through repetition," Adair said. Recognizing that, officials committed to a
"branding" campaign guaranteed to spend at least $1 million per year for a five-year period.

The campaign, launched in February 2000, aims specifically at what Adair calls "influencers." Those include not just business leaders but
legislators, researchers, high school counselors and human resources managers.

Without enough funding to conduct market research prior to the launch, research was conducted at the end of the first year and already some
positive results were being seen.

According to a presentation that will be made to the UH System Board of Regents on May 6, the results of the 2000 study showed that of people
who had seen ads, 71 percent of community leaders, 68 percent of faculty and staff and 49 percent of students could recall key messages in the
ads. Typically, a 25 percent recall rate is considered good.

The 2001 results showed further increases. Unaided awareness of UH jumped most significantly among key executives (48 to 55 percent) and
human resource managers (57 to 75 percent).

Tops among the messages recalled were the "Learning. Leading." tagline, the quality of education and the cougar image.

The placement aims at business people, with ads running in the Business and News sections of the Houston Chronicle. Ads have also run in
The Wall Street Journal and Fortune and Newsweek magazines. Television ads are generally shown during evening newscasts or weekend
sports.

If not most prominent, then certainly most expensive are the ads on television. So far four faculty members have been featured in the
commercials, produced at a cost of about $100,000 each.

Two recently featured faculty members were Alex Ignatiev of the physics department and Elizabeth Brown-Guillory in the English department.

Both commercials were hard but exciting to film, the educators said. Ignatiev blasted off into outer space for his ad, while Brown-Guillory played
four versions of herself. They were glad they could "make some major contribution to the reputation of the University," Ignatiev said.

"I think that the ad is working," Brown-Guillory said, adding that she gets recognized often now.

Another aspect of the campaign was the "Shasta loves ..." ads. These ads, created by Watson Riddle, the director of the publications
department, were inpired by a sign he put on his door. Since then Shasta has been seen expressing UH's amorous intentions for everything
from the Houston Chronicle to Tony Mandola's sandwich shop. "It totally, completely popped out of my head," Riddle said.

Numerous billboards now line Houston's freeways. Bearing messages like "Administaff builds businesses with Cougars" and "Duke Energy
generates what's next with Cougars" the signs are "co-branding," allowing UH to lessen costs.

After narrowing a pool of possible advertising companies down to two, McCann-Erickson was chosen. Adair said it was because of their extra
effort to test ideas and that they scrapped the angle they liked in favor of one that tested better. Early taglines included "Not just learning, but
leading."

"We wanted it to be clever and appealing but we also wanted to make a difference," said Adair. That difference has been the cougar image. 

Adair added that studies say UH has achieved the same level of penetration in Houston as a national campaign spending $40 million.

"Marketing is a fairly new concept, especially for public universities," Adair said. Since UH launched the campaign Houston Baptist University
has revamped its campaign and St. Thomas University has began to run ads.

"I want to be in the running with the UTs and the A&Ms," Adair said. It seems to be working. Only UT and A&M have generated more awareness
among most audiences. UH is even more recognizable in some areas.

With three more years and $3 million left, Adair has time and funding to achieve that goal.
 
 
 

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