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BU advertising campaign highlights research

In a new advertising campaign, Boston University officials have decided to portray the university as a hub for innovation research, BU officials said.

The new “The World Needs to Know” campaign, which launched in September, aims to promote BU’s innovative means of research and dismiss outdated perceptions about its programs, said Stephen Burgay, senior vice president of external affairs in Marketing and Communications.

“It’s a campaign that focuses in on one of the things that BU does best, which is research,” Burgay said. “Each highlights a particular professor and some of the really extraordinary work they’ve been doing.”

Burgay said that many educators retain perceptions about how BU has functioned for as far back as 30 years, when it was considered a lower quality commuter school. The campaign, he said, is meant to dispel those opinions.

“Back in the early ‘70s, BU was doing about $13 million dollars a year in research work, and today, we’re over $400 million dollars,” Burgay said. “And I think the reality of BU far outstrips the . . . old perception of BU, and we’re just trying to level the education playing field and help people understand more about what kind of institution we are in 2011.”

As part of the campaign, the Discover BU website features six videos, each of which highlights BU’s different academic fields and the established faculty members. Professors such as American Religion historian Stephen Prothero, who has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, are featured.

“What sets Boston University apart as a research university is the breadth and depth of its research and the uniquely entrepreneurial spirit of its faculty,” said Andrei Ruckenstein, vice president and associate provost for research, in a message on BU’s research website.

The advertisements and informational videos have been disseminated on other online websites such as the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Times of London, Burgay said.

The campaign, designed by Allen and Gerritsen marketing agency, promotes BU’s strengths and reputation as a research-oriented school, Burgay said, as an attempt to reach out to people with an outdated view of BU’s reputation, as well as to people working in education and considering a career in education.

Tom Fauls, an associate professor in Advertising, said that the campaign is meant to promote BU to decision makers who review the merits of universities, mainly because they are part of a large percentage of people who have an outdated view of BU.

“Even though there have been great stories about Boston University lately over the past few years, that’s just one drop in the bucket of total information,” Fauls said. “It’s something that I think is necessary.”

Burgay said the campaign makes no “vague assertions or unsubstantiated claims” about the research completed, which spans from professors saving the lives of HIV-infected Kenyan villagers to researchers linking neurodegenerative disease to repeated brain trauma, according to the videos.

“We’re focusing in on very specific people and very specific research,” he said. “So people can understand the type of knowledge and learning that comes out of the institution.”

The Allen and Gerritsen website said that it aims to help BU create a “brand-building multimedia campaign in digital and print media” that presents to leaders the “real-world impact of research” at BU.

Fauls said that BU is working on a limited media budget, but that the advertisements are a start.

“I don’t know exactly how many insertions that budget is going to buy – that’s less than $500,000,” he said. “But I think it’s a start, and it’s something that you can build on.”

One Comment

  1. Television advertising is powerful and effective for any business or service, from household goods to educational facilities!