CU eyes marketing campaign to combat party image

BOULDER — The University of Colorado is trying to shake off its party-school image once and for all, focusing the public’s perception instead on the school’s researchers, astronauts and entrepreneurs with a new marketing campaign called “Be Boulder.”

The branding effort, which formally launches in December, will attempt to influence how people who don’t know much about the university perceive it, said Jon Leslie, CU’s director of strategic marketing and web communication.

Leslie said he hopes the campaign will help streamline branding across all departments and schools on the Boulder campus and increase alumni participation. CU’s current 8-percent alumni participation rate ranks the university in the bottom of the Pac-12 Conference.

“This is a unique moment of buy-in across the campus for an umbrella message with the potential to shift perceptions of CU-Boulder and drive positive affinity for the University of Colorado as a whole,” Leslie said.

CU hired international design firm Pentagram earlier this year after internally developed campaigns fell short in focus groups. The firm has worked with schools such as the University of Michigan and the University of Southern California.

The campus spent nearly $68,000 to develop the new campaign, and another $55,000 to test “Be Boulder” with in-person and online focus groups, said Frances Draper, CU’s vice chancellor for strategic relations. CU will spend another $50,000 in the coming months to finish work on the campaign.

Draper said the campus as a whole hadn’t hired an outside firm for design or marketing work in five years.


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