Posted September 5, 2007

Advertising campaign brags about alumni

Play back in your mind one of the many television commercials you have watched for a university. See the exciting campus? The bright students? The engaging professor? How about the earnest researcher examining a beaker of swirling liquid?

Now imagine a commercial that crows about something other than the university itself. Instead, this commercial would highlight the ambition and determination, creativity and persistence — of alumni.

And not just any alumni. Temple alumni.

“Most higher-education branding centers on claims about the school,” said Timothy Reeves, president of The Neiman Group, the Harrisburg-based agency that created Temple’s new advertising campaign. “Sure, Temple has the exciting campus, the bright students, the research labs.

Temple billboard interstate 95
Ryan S. Brandenberg/Temple University
Last week, ads like this billboard on I-95 near the Philadelphia airport began popping up around the region, promoting the ambition and determination, creativity and persistence of alumni. The advertising campaign is intended to increase Temple’s visibility and enhance the emotional connection between the university and its alumni.

“But Temple’s niche, what sets Temple apart from everybody else, is its alumni,” Reeves added. “Temple grads have moxie. They are self-starters hellbent on making their own way in the world. Nothing has been just handed to them. Ever. They have that special pride that comes when success is hard-earned, and Temple is proud to have played a part in their success.”

The advertising campaign will appear beginning next week in the Philadelphia market on broadcast and cable television networks (including WPVI, KYW, WCAU, WTXF and A&E, CNN and The History Channel), radio stations (KYW, WRTI, WPHT), print publications (Inquirer, Forbes, Playbill) and billboards (Route 1, I-76, I-95). Banners promoting the ads are being hung on Temple campuses, and the campaign’s reach is being extended beyond Philadelphia via a web site,

The specific stations, air times, print outlets and billboard locations all were selected to target Temple alumni and other opinion leaders residing and working in Greater Philadelphia, said Lyn Pierce Strickler, executive vice president and managing director of Harmelin Media, the Bala Cynwyd-based agency charged with developing and implementing the media strategy.

The television commercials feature story vignettes related to medicine, the arts and professions such as management and law. They end by highlighting a Temple “T” in the words “initiative,” “creativity” or “inspiration.” The print, radio and outdoor advertising continue the theme, adding words such as “ambition,” “commitment,” “determination,” “imagination,” “innovation” and “persistence.”

“We want all Temple graduates – in fact, anyone related to Temple – to see something of themselves in each of these commercials,” said Stuart P. Sullivan, vice president for Institutional Advancement. “We believe that this campaign will not only make our alumni, faculty and staff feel proud about their affiliation to Temple, it will also give others a favorable impression of the university.”

Alumni who participated in focus groups agreed.

“I see smart, hardworking, talented, driven people in those commercials,” said one graduate. “To me, it says that’s either who Temple appeals to, or that’s the kind of student who goes to Temple, or that’s the kind of person we will turn you out to be in your career.”

Added another focus group participant: “I think it was coming out and saying: ‘You know what? People at Temple are smart.’ And I feel really connected to that. When I went to Temple, it was, ‘Oh, you’re going to Temple. That’s because you couldn’t get into anywhere else.’ And I think that it’s really important that it’s moving away from that finally and it’s becoming a school of choice.”

The advertising does not promote a particular program, encourage prospective students to apply or ask people to make gifts to Temple. There is no call to action. Instead the campaign is intended to increase Temple’s visibility, strengthen its brand and enhance the emotional connection between the university and its alumni, and with other opinion leaders in the region.