Funds sought for new ads

University Relations seek funding approval to extend “Driven to Discover” into 2009.

Elena Rozwadowski

More than one year after its launch, the success of the University’s “Driven to Discover” marketing campaign drove University Relations to ask for a $4 million, two-year extension.

The Board of Regents’ Finance and Operations Committee will consider this and other University expenses at its monthly meeting today.

The campaign initially cost $2 million, which covered development and advertising for the first 18 months. That allocation, approved by the Board of Regents last year, will run out this month.

If approved, the additional $4 million would support further campaign development and advertising through July 2009.

“Driven to Discover” officially launched in January 2006 and appeared on campus in September. The campaign sought to help the general public understand the research mission of the University, said University Relations Director Ann Aronson.

“There was not a very strong understanding of research and its value to people’s lives in the community,” Aronson said. “We were trying to move that public perception.”

Now, the University wants to expand “Driven to Discover” to include education and teaching at the University, Aronson said.

TV, radio and print ads ran on and off campus. Posters and sidewalk clings on campus with questions from the community answered by University faculty were the main internal initiatives.

Aronson said initial reports indicate “good traction in the markets where the campaign media ran,” without providing final numbers.

The University sent a survey to students, faculty and staff for campaign feedback.

Aronson said 57 percent of students and 71 percent of faculty and staff indicated they were aware of the campaign. More than half of the respondents said they felt both more favorable toward and more knowledgeable about the University because of it.

Officials from several colleges said the campaign connected the University with the community.

Bell Museum of Natural History Director Scott Lanyon said many of the questions sent by the community each month were intriguing.

Lanyon, who is also an evolutionary biology professor, said he even used one on a final exam.

College of Biological Sciences Dean Robert Elde and Institute of Technology spokeswoman Rhonda Zurn said the campaign explains complicated research well to the public.

“On television, there’s a Discovery Channel, not a research channel.” Elde said. “I think this is something people can really connect with and understand.”

Both Elde and Zurn also said they received comments from community members who saw University faculty in TV and print ads.

Zurn said the campaign generates enough support to be worthwhile for the University.

“It might cost a little bit of money, but what we’re going to receive in return will be worth it.”

But some University students said they don’t think the campaign does much for the University’s image.

“I can think of better ways to spend $4 million, like give it to a Las Vegas casino,” mathematics graduate student Nicholas Kirchner said.

“If they really want to improve the ‘U,’ they should look for the best and brightest Ph.D. graduate students and hire them,” he said. “That’s the way to make a university good.”