Colleges and universities have a hard time distinguishing themselves in marketing. They all have the same general premise: continue your education in a bucolic setting among a diverse student body. This fall, however, Purdue University is trying something different, playing off its Boilermaker mascot with a campaign called "Makers, All."
"[Other] institutions have not done a good job of differentiating themselves. We've seen tons of commercials with smiling students, a clock tower and a landmark," Teri Thompson, Purdue's vice president of marketing, tells Marketing Daily. "When I heard 'Makers, All,' I thought it did a beautiful job of marrying the athletic brand with our educational brand."
The effort was born out of extensive research that Purdue commissioned showing that the university would be able to differentiate itself through its science, technology and math programs as well as its "experiential learning opportunities" and international culture, Thompson says. "Our students felt they were prepared to make a difference once they left the institution," she says. "[And] our various stakeholders feel this is a place that transforms lives."
From there, Purdue developed a "manifesto" for its campaign. "I am a maker," the manifesto reads. "I think work should be about making things work. Better. Faster. Smaller. Smarter. So I build bridges between what's known and what's not. I tinker. I toil. I write poetically in an abundance of languages (including code). I hack. I dissect. I have an insatiable desire to uncomplicate the complicated. I am easily inspired. I believe that just because it hasn't been thought of doesn't mean it won't be. Potential is my thrill ride. Imagination is my most-used tool. I am a Maker. And I am what moves the world forward."
That manifesto has been displayed around the campus in banners, windows and on bus wraps. It is also featured prominently on the university's Web site. As the institution begins its recruiting for students for 2011, the language, typeface and style will begin appearing in print, television and online advertising, Thompson says.
"The creative is incredibly compelling and it is completely ownable by Purdue," she says. "And there's so much opportunity to play with it that our competitors cannot."