The University of Wyoming is proceeding with a new marketing campaign intended to help grow its enrollment and raise its national and international profile, with a primary campaign tagline of “The World Needs More Cowboys.”
The UW Board of Trustees voted unanimously today (Thursday) to move forward with the campaign immediately.
The campaign, which has been in development for about five months, takes the university’s boldest asset and modernizes it to reflect today’s challenges. The spirit of the campaign is exemplified in the primary campaign video released today, which may be viewed at https://youtu.be/EbJXn_he_sg.
“Drawing upon Wyoming’s proud heritage, this campaign redefines what it means to be a Cowboy in this day and age, distilling it down to the inner spirit of curiosity and boldness that all who call themselves Cowboys and Cowgirls can identify with — no matter their race or gender, or whether they’re students, employees, alumni or other supporters,” UW President Laurie Nichols says. “The Cowboy spirit is what the University of Wyoming helps instill in students, giving them the skills and support they need to make the breakthroughs that benefit our state and the world.”
The comprehensive marketing campaign, the first at UW in at least a decade, is a result of the university’s strategic plan, “Breaking Through: 2017-2022.” The strategic plan’s objectives include effectively communicating UW’s opportunities to prospective students, regional partners and national and global markets; and instituting a centralized plan that tells UW’s story and positions the university for recognition in all of these contexts.
The campaign was developed with the assistance of the Colorado marketing and advertising firm Victors & Spoils, whose parent company is Havas Worldwide, a global advertising company. The university has spent $500,000 so far on the campaign for development of campaign concepts and supporting taglines, market research, creative design of ad materials, overall campaign guidance, video production and media purchases.
The overall marketing campaign budget is $1.4 million, with half of that going to paid media. The plan calls for advertising on various digital channels to reach prospective students and parents in key target market regions, as well as traditional media inside and outside Wyoming.
“We didn’t plan to launch the campaign until early fall, but the overwhelmingly positive response of Wyoming people and UW supporters to ‘The World Needs More Cowboys,’ based on media reports, has caused us to move forward now with some pieces of the campaign,” says UW Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications Chad Baldwin. “Harnessing the positive energy resulting from the media coverage will help us roll out the campaign to a wider audience. Plus, we think it’s important for people to see the full context for the primary tagline as soon as possible.”
As the campaign video illustrates, “The World Needs More Cowboys” will be accompanied in UW marketing materials by visuals that are not the stereotypical image of a male cowboy. Much of the power of the campaign comes from this contrast.
“Wyoming’s and UW’s iconic bucking horse and rider, along with the university’s Cowboy mascot, show strongly that the state and UW are proud of our Western heritage,” Baldwin says. “The campaign builds upon that heritage and shows that a modern Cowboy can be anyone. A Cowboy isn’t what you are, but who you are.”
Market research conducted by a third-party firm has shown that the message resonates with the key target audience, prospective students. The firm conducted a custom communication evaluation among a national sample of adolescents who are likely to apply to a four-year university. Respondents were required to be between 15-18 and quite likely, very likely or extremely likely to apply to a four-year university. The nationally representative sample included a statistically significant number of African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans.
Before the respondents viewed the campaign video, 25 percent said they definitely or probably would consider UW, and 25 percent indicated they definitely or probably will apply. Among ethnic respondents, the numbers were 36 and 33 percent, respectively.
After viewing the video, 48 percent of the national sample said they definitely or probably would consider UW, and 41 percent said they definitely or probably will apply. For ethnic respondents, the numbers were 53 percent and 48 percent, respectively.
Broken down by gender, 77 percent of male respondents and 85 percent of female respondents indicated viewing the video increased their likelihood of applying to UW.
Some 68 percent of national respondents and 56 percent of ethnic respondents said viewing the video changed their perception of what it means to be a cowboy. Among the comments from those respondents:
— “Everybody can be a cowboy.”
— “Cowboys aren’t just males. A cowboy is anyone who is strong, smart, persistent.”
— “A cowboy is someone blazing a new trail and seeking new experiences.”
— “A cowboy is not just some guy in a cowboy hat.”
— “The video helped me to understand that the school is much more modern than I imagined.”
Additionally, before the respondents viewed the campaign video, 36 percent of the overall sample (41 percent of ethnic students) agreed that UW is “a university rich in diversity.” After viewing the video, those numbers rose to 58 percent for both sets of students.
UW has permission from Oklahoma State University, whose mascot also is a cowboy, to use the term “The World Needs More Cowboys.” That phrase appears on one page of OSU’s website and is not a part of OSU’s current marketing campaign, “America’s Brightest Orange.”
Other sub-taglines for the UW campaign include:
— “The World Needs More Relentless Curiosity.”
— “The World Needs More Unbendable Optimism.”
— “The World Needs More Outside Thinkers.”
— “The World Needs More Fearless Independence.”
— “The World Needs More Unyielding Courage.”
— “Bucking the System Since 1886.”
— “Epically Innovative Since 1886.”
— “Strongly Resilient Since 1886.”