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160over90 Branders to try out media campaign plan on faculty, staff

11/17/2014: Today, 4PM in the Alumni Center. Deputy Chief Strategic Communicator Tobin Klinger has the report here.

11/14/2014 update: Strategic Communicator Tim Clevenger fiddles with the brand, as grad students burn away

Job #1 was keeping us in the AAU by boosting research and grad student enrollment. But UO’s IR office reports that grad student enrollment has dropped yet again: down 100 just this year:

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But hey, no worries! Our well paid chief PR flack is having a great time at “brand camp”:

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7/30/14 update: UO’s 160over90 branders to propose “Bowl of Dicks” logo?

That’s the latest rumor from down at the faculty club. No confirmation from Tim Gleason or Tim Clevenger yet, but it seems like the logical next step after UO’s Bowl List went viral. Photo of the actual bowl (trigger warning) here.

Speaking of viral, Gleason ($218K) and Clevenger’s ($195K) 160over90 branders (slow flash site warning) and Nike are not having a lot of luck selling the University of Dayton student body on their proposed new logo. The UO Foundation plans to pay these fools $150K. Tim Jaschik of InsideHigherEd has the post-mortem from Ohio:

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6/8/2014: Duin on Branding in the Oregonian

“What five words would you use to describe UO?” The comments are open.

Steve Duin has collected a pile of even funnier Clevenger quotes here. The comments are pretty good too.

BTW, I thought this was all the usual PR fluff, but it sounds like some serious money and time has been spent already. Around the O has details.

Once upon a time Oregonians knew how to brand

6/7/2014: Now we pay former deans and consultants to stand around in white woolies, while someone else does the work. Steve Duin has the latest on UO’s hard working administration in the Oregonian here. Isn’t this what we’re paying Tim Gleason $218K for? If not, why are we paying him?

4/28/2013: Now it’s all marketing double-speak. From B-School Dean Kees de Kluyver.

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing to make you all aware of an important project we have launched that constitutes the first step in developing a new college-wide communication strategy.

A professional group called Songlines Communications, led by Chris Van Dyke, has been retained to develop a fresh core message for our college–our story.  I trust you will recognize the need for such an effort. As we begin to focus on growing graduate enrollments, increasing the efficacy of our outreach efforts and making preparations for a capital campaign, we need to develop a coherent message that at once describes us and effectively differentiates us from our peers. But before we invest in telling our story to a wide audience we need to develop it, get comfortable with it , own it, and then be able to convey it clearly.

Chris and his team have done similar work for a number of high-profile clients including Patagonia and we are very pleased that they have taken this on.  Their efforts are supported in spirit by our Board of Advisors and financially by an anonymous donor. They have talked with some of you already and will be talking with others over the next few weeks. If any of you want especially to contribute ideas please let us know. It is important that you understand that our story will come from us.  Their job is to synthesize what they learn and articulate it in a compelling way. It is also important to know that this is not an effort to substitute slogans for excellence in teaching and research.

I have invited Chris to report on progress at our scheduled May 10 faculty meeting. I am excited to hear what they come up with. I hope you are too.

Best … Kees
Cornelis A. “Kees” de Kluyver, Dean
Rippey Distinguished Professor
Lundquist College of Business
1208 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403

What’s in a Brand?

I am often asked what the Lundquist College of Business (or, for that matter, the UO) brand stands for. It is a good and timely question—especially with the high profile the Lundquist College enjoyed this past weekend as the backdrop for ESPN Gameday. But getting the answer right is important but not easy. With this update, I want to share some of our early thinking on this issue and invite you to send me your suggestions and comments. Let’s start with what a brand is not. Many people, most of whom should know better, still think that a brand is a logo or an ad campaign and not much more. I recently talked to an executive who had led a rebranding effort for his company and was very proud of the visual images his team had created. But when it came to answering the question of how his new “brand” differentiated his company from his principal competitors in the eyes of his customers, his reply was vague.To us, a brand signifies a promise of relevant benefits to our constituents. Our students seek an educational experience that broadens their thinking and prepares them for the competitive realities that await them. Faculty members value a collegial, engaging, research-focused work environment and bright, eager students to teach. Alumni and donors cherish the past and the future and make emotional and financial investments that clearly communicate this. There is no more profound a brand commitment than for an individual to recommend applicants to the college based on their own past experiences and their expectations for the future of the Lundquist College of Business. The common denominator is a commitment to a core set of values: quality in everything we do; a focus on students and learning; a collaborative, engaged, entrepreneurial work environment; and a respect for individual expression and differences. As you will appreciate, experiencing these attributes is one thing; capturing them in a simple graphic or tagline—if that is possible at all—is quite another.

A couple of years ago , the Lundquist College of Business engaged an external research agency to conduct focus groups with a broad range of stakeholders on the “branding” question. This research provided an understanding of the most salient dimensions of our “value proposition.” Specifically, it showed our circle of friends thought the college differentiated itself from other institutions in four key ways:

  • Our values—welcoming, collaborative, engaged, entrepreneurial,
  • Our educational philosophy—demanding, integrated, focused, with opportunities for hands-on experiences;
  • Our context—being part of a comprehensive, research-intensive, Association of American Universities (AAU), global university
  • Our focus—doing a few things really well as evidenced by our centers of excellence (the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, the Center for Sustainable Business Practices, and the now Finance and Security Analysis Center).

Are we on the right track toward developing a unique value proposition for the UO Lundquist College of Business? I think so but would like more input. If today I had to provide a two sentence description of who we are as a college, it would read something like what follows:

As an integral part of the University of Oregon’s position as an elite AAU research institution, the Lundquist College of Business offers a welcoming, inquisitive, and collaborative culture in an ideal college town. Our students obtain a world-class competitive advantage through a distinctive education that combines an integrated understanding of business’s role in society with hands-on experiences applying knowledge in niche areas such as sports marketing, entrepreneurship, sustainable business, and securities analysis and corporate finance.

Let me know what the Lundquist College of Business means to you.

Best and Go Ducks!

Cornelis A. “Kees” de Kluyver, Dean
Rippey Distinguished Professor


  1. IdiotForABoss 04/08/2013

    3 years as Dean and he doesn’t know what the “story” is? Or maybe, the real “story” won’t sell so they have to make one up.

    Think Mercedes and Volkswagons…

  2. downhillfast 04/08/2013

    I’m awaiting another episode from Robin Holmes’ playbook. Recall the list of buzzwords to describe those students who opposed the EMU expansion, and the words they were to use to push the project ahead? (How much did UO pay for that?)

  3. Will Overhead 04/09/2013

    Oh, yeah – Powered by orange. Talk about a great message – the people are what are powered by the institution, rather than the people powering the institution. “I’m powered by orange…” – ‘orange’ being OSU. Nowhere in the campaign does OSU indicate that the institution is powered by the people.

    Who is the university? – a great question that has been raised here. Funny, I though professors, students, and staff power OSU.

    I can see where “Powered by Green” would be a good copy in an administrator’s mind…

  4. nom 06/07/2014

    The UO (University of Obfuscation) needs academic rebranding from a “handsome branding agency” who will soon have boots on the ground looking for “themes” to “massage” and the “donor community” is here to generously help frame the conversation. What could go wrong? Sigh …

    • sigh 06/07/2014

      The plan is to “aggressively share the academic story of excellence here at the University of Oregon.” What rock do these people crawl out from under? And won’t we all be surprised to learn the “five themes” the brand massagers will “aggressively” reduce the college experience to? I can’t wait!

      • nom 06/07/2014

        Well … I think UOM should offer a blog competition for “Theme Fest: What 5 Themes Most Distinguish the UO Today?”, figuring they will be much more accurate and enlightening than anything this new over-under group will advance. ;)

        • ScienceDuck 06/07/2014

          Shouldn’t we brand around the Big Ideas? Now that they have had several years to achieve excellence and bring prominence to the University, we should not be afraid to toot our horn a bit!

          • train track 06/07/2014

            Toot away, ScienceDuck. What Big Ideas would you like to highlight? Oh wait … I’m gaining a hazard light on the phrase ‘big ideas’ .. ?

          • ScienceDuck 06/08/2014

            @train track. Here they are, the big ideas that have “shaped the future” of the U of O, 5 years later after a huge influx of resources to shoot these ideas into international prominence. Frankly, it is hard to choose just one!
            Overview In the summer of 2009 the Big Ideas selection committee announced that it selected five ideas that will help shape the future of the university. These ideas, which are listed below, were chosen from nearly thirty submissions from around campus. More on history of the Big Ideas Process. Big Ideas

            Sustainable Cities: How do you plan, build and retrofit cities in sustainable ways targeting the intersection of green buildings, communities, business and policies.
            The Americas in a Globalized World: Diversity and internationalization as keys to rethinking the past, present, and future of the hemisphere’s populations, cultures, and economies.
            Global Oregon: How do we rework liberal education to form not just good citizens, but good citizens of the world?
            Human Health and Performance: How do we maintain health and enhance performance in the modern world.
            Green Product Design: Integrating materials, product design and business models to supply the world with sustainable products.

          • anonymous 06/08/2014

            Ah, the Big Ideas — Stupendous stuff came out of that! Those were the great days, we shall not see their like again.

  5. Anon 06/07/2014

    160 over 90 is my blood pressure when I read about branding/PR. I wonder what the total payroll for mouthpieces, flacks, and senior special assistants for sending email is relative to that of a medium-size academic department?

  6. Gott Damn Idiots 06/07/2014

    Over a year later and not a peep from Songlines in the ole LCB glass house after they were embarrassed at a faculty meeting.

    Money well spent.

    • nom 06/07/2014

      And then next “they” will hire another whizz-bang, wet behind the ears group to rebrand the rebrand which needed updating from the earliest rebranded rebrand. And that very early rebrand ONLY existed because before then, there wasn’t technically any applied “science” called “branding” … because it used to be known widely as “common sense”. In the olden days, everyone had that knowledge and used it, not thinking they needed someone else to tell them when, how or why to do so.

    • One Eyed Pinhrad 06/08/2014

      This whole branding thing fills me with a sense of dread. I’m afraid, a school that needs to ‘find and sell a brand’ has already failed, or may already be on the path to failure…. an arboretum. REALLY?

      Regarding the link to Drake’s D+ logo – I honestly fear that we will be branded “Big Oh” and everyone will think: “Big Zero”. Consistent with this – Science Ducks comment regarding the “Big Ideas” from 2009 – what has come of them? NOTHING. Not in ONE area can the UO present any tangible, credible progress, let alone results. The sum of zero remains zero – and using 0 for branding is not a good idea, – oh wait, – unless 0 is what we expect from donors and enrollment anyway….

      Quietly, let’s just drop the big ideas and forget about them. They always appeared contrived and lacking of real vision. Maybe we can come up with something modest, down-to-earth that allows us to move forward and grow naturally, by demonstrated results, rather than by self aggrandizing euphemisms….

      Or maybe a campaign would be wiser in another 5 years, once we might have something to show?

      • nom 06/08/2014

        I know .. an arboretum? It’s not as though campus is the only place in Eugene with trees. And some already have taken to calling UO the Big Zero, or U Zero when “throwing the O” became so cool with the athletic set.

  7. Anonymous 06/08/2014

    #1: “Over-branded”

  8. Gott Damn Idiots 06/08/2014

    Here’s a serious idea. Let’s be the one school that doesn’t do this nonsense. Then we could spend our money investing in faculty and offer a top notch education and tell prospective students, “we aren’t going to spend your tuition dollars on consultants to tell us what we should be saying to you and we won’t accept donor money that doesn’t fall directly to education or research.”

    • One Eyed Pinhead 06/08/2014

      I would SO welcome this idea.

      • Gott Damn Idiots 06/08/2014

        It’s the only way to be different at this point.

  9. awesome0 06/08/2014

    It seems like all of this branding stuff is like watching these home renovation channels. On one episode, they take three rooms, knock down some walls and repaint the blue walls tan to “open everything up”. On the next, they take one large room, put up a couple of walls to turn it into three separate rooms, and then paint the tan walls blue to “make things inviting and cozy”.

    The best part from the designer’s perspective, is there’s always a different way to redo your house, and they’ll happily charge you 10 grand to find a new way to remodel your house because you’re feeling bored.

    In this case, there’s always a different way to brand UO, and the marketers will happily suck a couple million dollars away every couple years. They should really open the bidding on these contracts because I’m pretty sure our marketing students could do a better job than these million dollar hacks as a part of their senior projects.

    What a fucking joke.

  10. Anono 06/08/2014

    #2: “redacted”

  11. updater 06/08/2014

    Don’t know what five words to describe UO but will guess five words that the new branders will use:

    1. International
    2. Excellence
    3. Sustainable
    4. Committed
    5. Unique

    In other words: all the same crapola packaged as a new collection.

  12. anonymous 06/08/2014

    They could brand, but could they castrate like that woman in Iowa?

    Now that would really put UO at the cutting edge!

  13. ényo 06/08/2014

    1. disrespect
    2. rape
    3. cover-ups
    4. misogyny
    5. mediocrity

  14. Prof Mom 06/08/2014

    ”UO: come for the corruption, stay for the coverup”
    There! Now that we have a slogan, let’s work on a logo

  15. musing 06/08/2014

    Reading through this bit again from “Kees”, one has to answer the question: why is UO, with it’s own solid branding capability shown on a couple fronts, opting to hire some slick, outside neo-branders?
    Who (constituency) is really in charge?

    “But when it came to answering the question of how his new “brand” differentiated his company from his principal competitors in the eyes of his customers, his reply was vague.To us, a brand signifies a promise of relevant benefits to our constituents. Our students seek an educational experience that broadens their thinking and prepares them for the competitive realities that await them. Faculty members value a collegial, engaging, research-focused work environment and bright, eager students to teach. Alumni and donors cherish the past and the future and make emotional and financial investments that clearly communicate this. There is no more profound a brand commitment than for an individual to recommend applicants to the college based on their own past experiences and their expectations for the future of the Lundquist College of Business.”

  16. Gott Friends? 06/09/2014

    Nothing sinister here….just good ole cronyism. Follow the connections:

    Chris Van Dyke from Songlines held a senior position at Patagonia, Inc. where he was VP of Marketing and Product Development (!about/c20r9)

    Micheal Crooke – LCB’s first “Professor of Practices” ($103,000 + $22,500 “travel stipend” to teach one class!)….former CEO of Patagonia.

    • anon 06/09/2014

      “sinister”? Mischaracterize much?

  17. Please, please 07/31/2014

    redact that picture of the bowl. It’s just a little too “frank”.

  18. Leporello 08/03/2014

    Overheard at the faculty water cooler, the rumor is that UOM is coming out with a “Bowl of Dicks” t-shirt and coffee mug set in time for the footbowl season. That “package” would make a great gift for the Mrs.

  19. Clueless 11/14/2014

    All this brand talk from strategic communicators makes me want to throw up in my mouth. It’s just such empty activity for an institute of higher learning. Or maybe it’s just that I have no confidence that we will hire anyone to do this stuff that is actually any good.

  20. Oryx 11/14/2014

    Re the 11/14/2014 update: Posting a graph without axis scales?! That’s not going to keep us in the AAU…

  21. Working GTF 11/14/2014

    I wonder if one of the topics covered in “brand camp” was how to manage the brand when your bargaining position runs directly counter to the published research of your president.

  22. anonec 11/14/2014

    What a tool… How many interns could do a better job as a “undergrad capstone” project?

  23. From Animal House to American Pie 11/14/2014

    “And this one time, at Brand Camp, I stuck a fork in our chances of staying in the AAU!”

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