Purdue spends nearly $500K on marketing campaign

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Purdue University spent nearly $500,000 to develop and promote a marketing campaign that angered many students and alumni who thought the school was straying from its traditional image as the Boilermakers.

The "We are Purdue. Makers, all" campaign was launched Oct. 15 as the university aimed to capture Purdue's land-grant mission as well as its athletic and academic achievements. A Columbus, Ohio, branding company developed the tagline, which is featured on banners, sculptures and promotional items around campus.

A public records request filed by the Journal & Courier showed the university spent more than $304,000 last year for creative services, displays, banners and some advertising tied to the campaign. Purdue also spent $193,000 for a marketing survey used to create the campaign.

The amounts don't include any expenses for 2011.

Purdue officials say the campaign has won industry awards and has helped increase student outreach.

Teri Lucie Thompson, Purdue's vice president of marketing and media, said changes were made early on to include "Boilermaker" in advertisements and signs after students and alumni criticized the slogan on blogs, through e-mails to Purdue President France Cordova and on Facebook groups.

Another phrase — "What we make moves the world forward" — also has been added to the campaign.

"I don't think everybody loves it and there will be people who will read this and question the cost," Thompson said. "Overall, I think it is very positive and we are seeing the results of that."

Ben Hebbe, a Purdue University senior, said the campaign is a work in progress but that he likes a component that profiles five students who are featured as innovators and leaders in policy and culture.

"It is showing the university some of the different projects students are accomplishing here on campus," he said. "I find it intriguing to learn about the great accomplishments of my peers."

Thompson said the campaign will likely run into 2012.

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