Tuesday, September 14, 2010

LSU: 'It's toast(ed)'

Once again, the first episode of Mad Men explains everything. Or at least many things.

Take the new marketing campaign of my college alma mater, Louisiana State University.

The university --
and I assume we can still call it a university for now -- has taken grievous budget hits over the past 20 months or so as Louisiana continues to slash its bloated budget . . . in all the places it cannot afford to slash. As it turns out, the $42 million in cuts is just a warm-up for the $75 million butchering the state demands it outline by today.

And now, with all this going on, LSU is trying to figure out how to sell a shell of its former self . . . which, frankly, already was puny compared to many state universities around the country. They're calling it
"Love purple, live gold."

In other words, university leaders are rolling out a new ad campaign designed not only to use purple prose to spray paint a dessicated turd gold, but also convince prospective students all over America to take a big bite out of what just might hurt their post-collegiate prospects.

After reading this story in The Daily Reveille, the LSU student newspaper, I'm thinking they better have found someone as sharp as Don Draper to sell a suspecting public the academic equivalent of cancer sticks:
People often associate budget cuts with the University, but administrators are looking to create a new, hopeful image to brand the University: “Love purple, live gold.”

Herb Vincent, University associate vice chancellor for University Relations and senior associate athletic director, said the campaign was focused on the color gold, which represents excellence, achievement and prestige.

“Purple, passion — we love what we do, and we’re excited about research. Band is excited about sporting events,” said Jewel Hampton, University art director, who coordinated task force efforts for the campaign. “Gold is about hitting the gold standard of excellence. It’s more focused on presenting who we are to prospective students.”

In such a difficult economic time, Vincent said it’s difficult but necessary to brand the University with a new image now.

“The campaign is mostly about who LSU is and trying to define LSU based on the community that makes up this University,” Hampton said. “In that sense, the challenge we have in communicating for LSU every day is this private market of 16- to 20-year-old prospective students.”

Chancellor Michael Martin said it’s an ideal time to brand the University with a new message.

“People are trapped with old images and old phrases,” Martin said. “[The new campaign] is to recognize the place is always changing.”

Martin said once people mull over “love purple, live gold,” they’ll reflect on what it means to them.

“To me, if you embrace and invest yourself here, you’ll live better as a result of it,” Martin said. “Invest in a great education experience, and every part of life will be enriched.”
"AND YOU KNOW what happiness is? Happiness is . . . a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that whatever you're doing, it's OK."

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