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Learning. Leading.
The University of Houston Image Campaign

The vision of the University of Houston is to be the nation’s preeminent public urban research institution. While we are well on our way, to complete our journey we need to attract more and better resources. We need to be a school of choice. We need a reputation of excellence. So like any good university, we formed a committee; we developed a proposal; we took that proposal to the University’s President; and we got his support to forge ahead.

The results: a hugely successful five-year, $5 million branding campaign the committee selected McCann-Erickson (now Temerlin McClain) as its advertising agency, promoted the concept of a campaign across campus, gathered feedback, established specific objectives, laid the foundation for integrating advertising and other campus communication (both internal and external), and worked diligently to secure funding. The advertising campaign was launched on February 1, 2000.

Internet ads focus on nationally ranked programs at UH, while billboards demonstrate connections to the community. Prominent alumni appear in another series of print ads. And the UH Cougar Mascot ties all these pieces together.

We define the university’s audiences as “influencers.” Specifically, we are targeting key executives, community leaders, human resources professionals, alumni, faculty, staff and students.

Research proves that the campaign is successful. In fact, we are exceeding our goals:

Build campaign awareness – Over the course of the campaign, total advertising awareness has increased 10 percent across our target markets.

Gain recognition of UH as a community leader ­ The surveys show that the image of UH as an important community asset has risen consistently. UH is now comparable to the University of Texas, Texas A&M and Rice in the areas of providing quality employees, making contributions to the city, spurring the economy, and educating community leaders ­ all key campaign messages.

Increase alumni awareness – UH has close to 200,000 alumni with approximately 2/3 residing in the Houston metropolitan area, so they are a major audience for the university. Though overall brand awareness has remained steady with the alumni audience, since the inception of the campaign, we have seen modest increases in alumni advertising recall.

Place UH among Texas’ top four universities ­ To test brand awareness, researchers ask people to name the top universities in Texas. And The University of Houston is included in more and more people’s lists. Since the first survey was conducted in November 2000, top-of-mind brand awareness among all audiences has increased by 8 percent overall ­ and 29 percent among key executives. UH is top among all other target audiences and trails only the University of Texas in brand awareness among community leaders.

Enhance perception of UH quality - Over 50% of the people polled in 2002 ranked UH high for quality of education, faculty and academic programs ­ all key messages presented in the advertising. So by 2002, we had already reached the level we had hoped to reach by the end of the five-year campaign.

There are other indicators of success, as well. Informal feedback has been extremely positive and continuous. Though the campaign was not directly aimed at recruiting students or increasing donors, we have seen a nearly 10% increase in freshmen applications and a 30% increase in alumni donors to the annual fund. Donors have specifically mentioned the ads in making contributions to programs that were highlighted. Campaign images have appeared all over campus and on many UH publications.

Last, but not least, the campaign has won numerous local, regional, national, and international awards, including:

  • The International Association of Business Communicator’s (IABC’s) top worldwide award, the Gold Quill

  • IABC Silver (district) Quill

  • IABC Bronze (local) Quill

  • Two Silver and one Bronze Telly, the top national award honoring local/regional TV commercials

  • One Gold and Two Silver Awards from District IV, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education

  • One Gold and three Bronze ADDYs from the Houston Advertising Federation

  • The Grand Excalibur and Gold Awards from the Houston Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America

  • Silver and Bronze Awards from the Houston International Film Festival

  • Top marketing program of the year from the Houston Chapter of the American Marketing Association

Showing the world that the University of Houston is a great university. The University of Houston. Learning. Leading.


Market Research 2003 Power Point Presentation

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