‘I am’ marketing campaign almost gone

By Corinne Doubek

Advertising and marketing are two ways to attract prospective and hopefully soon-to-be-committed high school seniors. And while some universities plaster ads on a TV screen, others like Ashland are focusing on redesigned campaigns and online features for a fresh new take on publicity.

Marketing director Jan Bond and Scott Van Loo, vice president for enrollment management and marketing, work together to make the university more appealing and well-represented visually. They are also both new to the campus community, too.

Their two pairs of fresh eyes have brought a new look to campus advertising.

Many people don’t realize how much time and effort goes into marketing an institution like AU.

Compared to other Ohio universities that are similar in size to AU, Ashland seems to fall somewhat near the middle in terms of how much money is budgeted for advertising, spending approximately .63 percent of total annual expenses on advertising, according to the 2009 IRS 990 form.

Other Ohio universities of similar size fit into a range of percentages. Malone University spent the most, 2.2 percent of the total 2009 expenses, and John Carroll spent the least, .2 percent.

Budgeting is done on a yearly basis, meaning that the amount allotted to each department also fluctuates.

“While it may be difficult to project whether…spending on advertising will increase in future years, we will continue to assess the effectiveness of our advertising and overall communication,” Van Loo said.

As marketing director, Bond is in charge of determining where to budget some of these monies.

Online activities such as social media activity, search engine marketing and optimization and improving the AU website are some of the major upcoming and ongoing projects.

Prior to Bond and Van Loo’s arrival, print advertising had been a major focus; however, fluctuations in consumer preferences have turned the majority of advertising away from print. It is the job of Bond and Van Loo to strategically determine where to spend the money so that the greatest number of prospective students and families are reached.

Bond must focus on the university’s brand, as well as maintaining identity and increasing consumer awareness of AU.

In the fall, these two partners in marketing are also aiming to revise AU’s current campaign, “I am Ashland.” After being around for a few years now, Bond thinks that it needs a revamp.

“We will talk with all of our university constituents to develop a fresh campaign, one that will reflect the university’s core values and goals,” Bond said.