Tim Clevenger and 160over90’s $5M “We If” brand campaign loses award to Tyler Junior College’s registration video

You can’t make this shit up. Thanks to an anonymous reader for the link. 160over90 was also in a 4-way tie for second place in the not very prestigious “Individual Sub-Websites” category:

University of Oregon – University of Oregon “Explore If” website

This website was built as a special landing page to accompany the new “We If” commercial. The commercial directs viewers to exploreif.uoregon.edu, where they can explore each individual story that is featured in the commercial in an interactive way. The Rose Bowl and National Championship bowl games provided an excellent platform to launch a new 30-second TV spot for the University of Oregon. …

I wonder how CASE, which does a lot of good work, ended up supporting this ridiculous contest. These ads make lots of money for UO’s branders and PR flacks like Mr. Clevenger, who costs UO more than, say, two new physics professors. But even if they were done well they’re not about helping academics. They’re about providing cover for Duck athletic director Rob Mullens and his coaches, so they can continue to exploit UO’s tax-deductible status to increase their own paychecks by claiming big-time sports doesn’t just sell beer, it also helps UO’s academic mission. Tell that to Jane Doe. Here’s hoping UO’s new VP for Communications Kyle Henley puts a quick end to this nonsense.

New VP for Comm Kyle Henley to represent UO, or just the Ducks?

9/7/2015: Silly question. He’s paid to be the athletic department’s sacrificial anode.

It took the UO Public Records Office a month to provide his resume and the justification for changing the job from Associate VP to VP. They claim they didn’t have to provide his resume, but only did it because he agreed to. I’ll extrapolate that this new hire is not going to be the sort to deal with UO’s fundamental transparency problems.

Another bad sign is that the hiring committee was mostly PR flacks:

  • Tim Clevenger, AVP For Communications, Marketing and Brand Management
  • Jennifer Winters, Director of Public Affairs, Presidential Communications
  • Rita Radostitz, Director of Strategic Communications, Student Life
  • Zack Barnet, Director of Digital and Social Media
  • Kelli Matthews, Instructor, Public Relations

If this job was really to “… foster relationships and transparency among students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, as well as media, community leaders, and other constituents” as President Schill wrote, then why not put some of those constituents on the search committee?

My prediction is that Mr. Henley soon burns his credibility with the press, trying to explain away the latest tax deductible Duck extravagances and the heavily redacted documents that UO releases after the forthcoming athletics scandal.

But maybe he’ll surprise. The search docs that Greg Stripp’s public records office was willing to release are here:

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 12.50.11 AM

8/20/2015: Initial reports suggest that my skepticism about this guy is unwarranted, and that he may be the person to shake up UO Communications. Details on the way. Meanwhile UO’s Public Records office is still sitting on my request for his job description and hiring info, which really isn’t doing him any favors on the transparency dimension.

8/10/2015: UO hires Kyle Henley from CSU as new VP for Communication

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Job number one will be to write a press release explaining why UO is spending its money hiring PR flacks instead of faculty.

We’re paying strategic brander Tim Clevenger $209,625, and he’s just an Associate VP. This new hire will cost ~3 faculty slots. No wonder the well is dry.

While “Around the 0” says “Henley has been the assistant vice president for strategic communications at CSU, where he focused on promoting academics and research,” it looks to me like Henley’s main job was promoting their new $235M football stadium. Uh-oh.


Dear Colleagues,

As many of you have heard me repeatedly say over my first month as president, my top priority is to build the academic program and reputation of the University of Oregon. It is vital that we not only grow the faculty by adding great scholars, but that we promote the work that all faculty members do here to the outside world.

The University of Oregon has a wonderful reputation as a world-class institution. Strengthening our capabilities to promote the university―specifically related to academics and research―will further enhance our standing within the higher education community, help attract even more extraordinary students, support our fundraising goals, and bolster efforts in the area of faculty hiring. I am therefore pleased to announce that I have changed the institution’s organizational structure to create an independent University Communications office, and I am appointing Kyle Henley as the new Vice President for Communications.

Kyle is joining the University of Oregon in early September. He comes to us from Colorado State University, where he served as assistant vice president for strategic communications and led successful efforts to enhance communications related to academics and research. He’s an innovator with a track record of delivering results and effective advocacy among key external audiences. Kyle will provide counsel, vision, and leadership in our communication efforts to help foster relationships and transparency among students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, as well as media, community leaders, and other constituents.

I would very much like to thank Vice President for Advancement Michael Andreasen for his willingness to oversee communications over the past two years. The office has thrived under his leadership. However, as we move into the crucial stages of our ambitious $2 billion fundraising campaign, this frees Mike up to focus on development, alumni affairs, and government relations. In conversations with Kyle and Mike, we have agreed that, in the interest of achieving efficiencies, the new University Communications office will continue to receive operational support―such as IT and HR functions―through University Advancement.

I am thrilled to have Kyle join the University of Oregon and lead our talented team of communications and marketing professionals. Please join me in welcoming him to the UO community.


Michael H. Schill


UO’s $20M branding efforts pay off!

For Tim Clevenger, his 160over90 branders, and their advertising partners, that is:

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 12.10.01 PM

Meanwhile what is paying off for UO’s students are investments in education.  Diane Dietz has the story here:

“University of Oregon ranks better than middling on Forbes top college list”

… Here’s how the measures are weighted: 25 percent on student satisfaction measures, 32.5 percent on post-graduate success, 25 percent on student debt, 7.5 percent on graduation rate and 10 percent on graduate level academic success.

$20M directed at these metrics would actually make UO a better university, get us above “middling”, and then that better Forbes ranking would bring in more and better students, boost post-graduate success, etc. And Forbes and the RegisterGuard would do the advertising for us, no charge.

But why would a brander like Clevenger support giving money to the academic side, when he could spend it with his media buddies buying advertisements on buses in LA?

PR will make the UO great? Don’t buy it.

John Orbell is a UO Professor Emeritus of Political Science. The RG has his Op-Ed on UO’s “What the if?” branding campaign, here:

How to build a university’s reputation for greatness? The answer is straightforward: Actually be great, and the word will get around. Being great involves a lot more than just ginning up a public relations campaign to persuade potential students (and their parents) of the university’s greatness — which, if the university is not, in fact, great, is no more than high-priced lying.

The relevant fact for the University of Oregon is that, despite its membership in the prestigious 62-member Association of American Universities, the UO’s ranking by U.S. News & World Report has slipped to 106th.

Making an academically mediocre university actually “great” is not the same as persuading a 17-year-old to buy a particular brand of jeans, as one PR person suggested in The Register-Guard’s stories on May 16 and 17. The bad news is that it’s not that easy; the good news is that it might cost much less than hiring dozens of public relations people. …

This $20M 160/90 branding campaign has done more to destroy the faculty’s trust in the judgement of the new UO Board than their delegation of authority policy grab did. Time for them to turn it around, cancel the contract, and put the donor money into real investments in UO faculty and students.

RG turns over more rocks, uncovers more of UO’s bloated branders

5/16/2015 update:

Two new stories to add to the three printed Saturday in the Register Guard about UO’s branding efforts. These are all online now, new ones in print Sunday. I’ve posted extracts with a few comments for all five stories below. Follow the links to the stories, and please consider leaving your comments on the RG website, where they will be read by many more people than here.

This series of five stories is another tour de force for Diane Dietz and the RG’s Higher Ed reporting. Rich Read at the Oregonian must be a little green.

I’m no journalism professor, but I’m gradually learning a little bit about how reporting works. The UO administrators that Diane Dietz quoted in these stories really didn’t want to have to answer questions about where the money was going. But they knew they would have to respond if Dietz had documents. So they tried to stonewall her public records requests. Once the District Attorney made Dave Hubin’s office produce the public records, the administrators had to give interviews, or be embarrassed with “no comments”. And so Dietz got these revealing quotes from Chuck Lillis, Tim Clevenger, and others.

There are tens of millions of dollars and UO’s national reputation or “brand” at stake here. I know that at least a few UO donors have been questioning the wisdom of the road that the UO administration and the new Board are taking us down. Perhaps if they looked at options like Job Killing Dan Klein courses, or other courses out there, that could help. In the meantime, these news stories are going to help fuel those questions. Once again the RG has done the University of Oregon a great service with their reporting. I’m guessing those UO administrators who worked to keep the basic facts secret are going to see it a little differently, of course, and that they’ll keep trying to hide public records as well.

With its scores of communicators, UO tries to find one voice. Diane Dietz, here.

Dietz goes through UO’s long and expensive history of failed branding efforts:

The UO already employs platoons of communicators, marketers and public relations specialists – and it farms out millions of dollars to outside contractors for the same kind of work.

The UO’s marketing and PR machinery, in fact, has become so costly and unwieldy that top UO officials are taking steps to figure out if it’s working well.

Citing a need to coordinate the extensive effort to sell the university, interim President Scott Coltrane in mid-March imposed a hiring freeze on communications and marketing-type jobs, except with special approval.

…The hiring of the top-flight 160over90 firm about a year ago under a three-year $3.4 million contract marks the second major branding effort the university has undertaken.

In 2008, the university signed a three-year, $1.2 million contract with global firm Fleishman-Hillard for a “branding, positioning and media strategy” to make the UO sought after. Perhaps a more cost effective method of branding would have been to focus on their social media presence and how their brand is represented on platforms like Instagram. Of course, a higher follower count on these sites carries more status and so a business may want look into growth services in order to give their instagram followers an additional boost to take the reach of their brand’s message and image to the next level.

… Still, on staff, the UO has more than 100 marketing, public relations, strategic communications and digital communications employees, a review of the UO’s personnel records shows. All work largely in the service of the UO’s image-building. The total salary and benefits cost the UO about $10 million a year.

A hiring spurt added as many as 20 new marketing and communications employees to campus over the past 18 months. And, despite Coltrane’s recent freeze, the hiring continues.

… Separately, UO schools and colleges have launched their own self-promotional efforts, spending at least $3 million in recent years on marketing, advertising, public relations and branding contracts.

Four years ago, the UO School of Journalism and Communications – SOJC – sought to define itself as a “destination” school for journalism students nationally, said Tim Gleason, dean at the time.

… Alumnus Tracy Wong’s A-list agency, the Seattle-based Wongdoody, put his staff to work for the college. The staff helped write the SOJC slogan: “Ethics. Action. Innovation.” … Wongdoody did the work at cost – $20,000, Gleason said. “If we had taken it out to an open bid, it was several hundred thousand dollars worth of work,” he said. “We were very fortunate.”

… In 2013, the Lundquist College of Business hired Songlines Communications of Bend – for $36,000 – to create a unifying “brand story” that “succinctly, elegantly and emotionally communicates the unique identity of the Lundquist College of Business,” according to the contract. Next, the college bought $12,000 worth of marketing advice from Fixx Consulting of Portland. … De Kluyver also OK’d a $100,000 contract with White Horse Productions in Portland in fall 2013 to redesign the college’s website with a “lightweight, forward-thinking” touch. De Kluyver is featured on a website video – wearing trademark suspenders – playing a banjo and explaining that teaching business management is like improvising in jazz.

Two years later, 160over90 is refashioning the Lundquist brand, writing brochures and ads to promote MBA programs; eventually, the firm will redo the college’s website, Clevenger said.

UO’s ever helpful 160over90 branders even provide the administrators that sign their $3M check with talking points on how to fight off faculty who think it’s a waste:

The UO’s agency, 160over90, warns its university clients about likely opposition to their branding plans from “a disgruntled tenured professor in the humanities department with a dull ax to grind,” according to 160over90’s humorously written manual for university administrators.

… At the UO, Clevenger fretted about which faculty should be invited to talk with 160over90 to help discern the essence of the UO, according to an email obtained by The Register-Guard through a public records request. Let deans select four to five professors to participate, Clevenger wrote. “I don’t want any open call to faculty,” he wrote.

Yes, best to get that essence from the usual brown-nosers. Not that it matters, Chairman Lillis has spoken:

Chuck Lillis, president of the UO Board of Trustees, built a $60-billion-plus empire on his background in marketing. Lillis earned a doctorate in marketing at the UO in 1972. …

Lillis, the inaugural chairman of the UO board – and $14 million donor to the UO business college – is squarely behind the 160over90 campaign.

“We can’t spend $3 million more intelligently than this,” he said recently.

Actually, I think it’s more like $20M over 5 years, plus the $10M per year in internal salaries. But whatever, here’s Sunday’s second story, on how little this branding crap can do to counteract reality:

Blizzard of bad news may be tough for UO to sweep aside. Diane Dietz, here:

As the University of Oregon tries to boost its image nationally, one measure of success UO executive Tim Clevenger touts is the number of times a single story – favorable to the university – appears in newspapers across the United States. An Associated Press story about the UO’s $20 million branding initiative, for example, ran in 230 newspapers, Clevenger recently told the UO Board of Trustees.

But Google searches show that bad news can travel farther and faster, underscoring the difficulties UO marketers face.

When a Duck football tight end dumped a bucket of snow on a hapless UO professor in 2013, the story appeared in 225 media outlets, rolling out as far as TV 2 in Norway. A video of the incident drew 4.7 million YouTube hits.

A Duck running back punched an opponent on the football field in 2009, and the story rocketed through 2,136 newspapers and other media outlets. Even a UO effort to engineer good national attention – by giving The New York Times and Sports Illustrated an exclusive first look at its new football operations center in 2013 – wasn’t an all-out success. Of 311 online comments on The New York Times article about the center – ‘Oregon Embraces ‘University of Nike’ Image’ – negative reactions outnumbered the positive, three to one.

… The UO’s leadership can choose to ignore negative media reports in the hopes that the branding campaign makes a bigger noise, [Some PR guy named Forrest Anderson] said. … The pressing challenge for universities now is sexual violence …

For the UO, the subject has led from one black eye to the next.

First, the UO chose to release little information about the incident. The UO responded to records requests from newspapers – including The Register-Guard and The New York Times – with color-coded redactions that concealed the text of most of the documents. Publications ran photos of the colorful redactions. [Coffee cups and t-shirts available at UniversityofNike.com.]

That looked like a cover-up, Anderson said. “It just looks like (the university has) something to hide. It’s my take as a general consumer. ‘Oh, they must be hiding something’ if they don’t want to let us know.”

University lawyers typically advise in favor of blacking-out information, Anderson said. “One of the signs of a good CEO is that sometimes they ignore their lawyers. They say that might be the legally prudent thing to do, but is that the right thing to do? And they do the right thing,” he said.

5/15/2015: RG analyzes UO’s “What the if?” branding campaign and JH’s trust destroying secrecy

The stories below were posted Friday and in the Saturday printed paper. Read them all, and please consider leaving comments on the RG website, where they will be read by more people than here. I’ve just posted extracts with a few comments:

1) UO’s $20 million national branding campaign holds promise, faces steep challenges. Diane Dietz, here:

Chuck Lillis thrills to the sight of the University of Washington rising in the top 100 best-colleges rankings.

But Lillis, the current – and first – chairman of the University of Oregon Board of Trustees, frankly doesn’t like what he sees in the rankings when it comes to the UO, where he also went to school.

“I want us to see our rankings and have goosebumps,” he told the UO Senate recently. “I don’t like these rankings that are 92nd, 104th, 86th. That just isn’t good enough.”

So in May 2014, a month before the Board of Trustees formally won control of the university, the UO quietly started a $20 million, donor-funded plan that included hiring an edgy Philadelphia branding firm – 160over90 – to elevate the university’s stature.

To put this in perspective, the $20M the board has decided to spend on PR would have paid for start-up packages for 10 to 20 top research professors. They are gambling instead that “What the If” TV ads will encourage enrollment of out of state students willing to pay full tuition – meaning not academically gifted enough to get scholarships from other schools:

But in recent decades, the UO found itself at the bottom of the AAU pack in key academic excellence measures, says a report by interim UO President Scott Coltrane.

For a research university, the UO is short on tenured faculty, doctoral students, research spending, research production and high-achieving students, says the report. Bringing all those measures up to snuff would take an endowment of billions, says Lillis.

“We’re financially weak,” Lillis told the Senate. “We’re very weak if we want to be a great university.”

Unexpectedly, it seems our 160over90 branders agree with my analysis of how this $20M campaign is in some ways needed to counteract the pernicious influence of Duck football wins on UO’s national reputation. After all, what parent wants to spend $200K sending their child to a big-time football party school for 4 years?

The sports success has been an asset and a drawback for the UO’s new academic branding initiative.

The university’s academic side, in adopting the Bakas-designed “O” as its logo, tapped onto the sports brand that Nike built. The UO president at the time, Dave Frohnmayer, wanted the “O” to represent the whole university. “If you’re not represented by something,” he said, “people don’t know what you stand for.”

Some faculty saw that as a takeover of the university’s image by Nike and the football team – a contention the UO’s new branding firm assumes is true.

“Obviously the university has a big problem getting out the message that we’re a serious academic institution,” Bill Harbaugh, economics professor and publisher of the uomatters.com blog, said recently. “The football program has co-opted the university’s message; it’s all about the Duck brand.”

A key UO image challenge, according to the brand strategy recently developed by 160over90 for the UO, is the “unbalanced national perception of the university, currently dominated by athletics.”

So, instead of spending $20M on academics, we have to spend it on advertising. How convenient for 160over90 – that just happens to be the business they are in!

Will it work? Even PR flacks like UO’s $209K Chief Strategic Communicator Tim Clevenger seem to think it might make more sense to spend the money on science instead:

The university needs academic substance to be great, said Tim Clevenger, a long-time private sector ad man whom the UO put in charge of the new branding effort.

The university needs the academic corollary of a Rose Bowl or a national championship – a scientific breakthrough, a Nobel Prize win, a reinforced perch among the nation’s pre-eminent schools.

“A brand can have a really cool logo and neat ads,” Clevenger said, “but if there’s no substance behind it, it doesn’t mean anything.”

2) The RG’s second story, here, goes on to explain some of the ways Clevenger is spending his $20M.

Let’s just say it’s not on substance.

3) UO slow to release records on its cutting-edge branding effort. Diane Dietz, here.

This last story goes into the enormous difficulties the Register Guard had in dealing with Dave Hubin’s Public Records Office to get the branding documents. When UO wants to spin reporters about something that makes the administrators look good, they’ve got plenty of well paid PR flacks like Clevenger, Tobin Klinger, Craig Pintens, etc. Money is no object. Not enough flacks on staff? Hire Anna Richter-Taylor from Gallatin Public Affairs to consult, at about $300 an hour.

But when a reporter wants some documents that might have some actual facts, and might actually inform the public about what’s really going on in Johnson Hall, they send them to Dave Hubin’s black hole of transparency and trust. Dietz reports:

The University of Oregon is breaking a sweat telling the nation about the benefits of a UO education.

But it has moved at a crawl to disclose basic public information about the cost and other aspects of that branding campaign. It took an order from the Lane County District Attorney’s Office to force the UO to produce some records.

When the Legislature granted the UO independence from most state oversight in 2013, lawmakers required it to remain a public university and to continue to obey Oregon public records and meetings laws.

In June and September 2014, The Register-Guard submitted records requests seeking documents on the work that 160over90 and other branding and marketing firms were doing for the UO. Tim Clevenger, the UO’s associate vice president for communications, marketing and brand management, in May had established 160over90 as the “ad agency of record.”

The university charged the newspaper $800 for the June request and $500 for the September request to supply hundreds of pages of documents.

Then, in both cases, the UO took more than three months to begin releasing documents.

And in both cases, the UO heavily blacked out some documents and simply neglected to provide many others that were in its possession, even though they were clearly covered by the newspaper’s request.

… [UO Economics Professor Bill Harbaugh] said the UO’s redactions and delays in this case are typical of the UO.

“Most university public records offices are very business-like. They try to help you find the documents and they try to get them to you as quickly as they can,” Harbaugh said. “They don’t waste your time with trivial fees and they don’t waste your money with big fees.”

By comparison, the UO public records office is known statewide for its delays, high fees and heavy redactions, Harbaugh said.

“The University of Oregon is as prompt as molasses on a really cold day, or a really cold winter, because a day is too short a time period to capture the full extent of their slowness,” he said. “It’s best measured in geologic time.”

At a recent meeting of the University Senate, Harbaugh told UO interim President Scott Coltrane that delays in providing public information is hurting relationships at the university. “Without that transparency, you’re not going to get trust,” Harbaugh said.

Coltrane’s reply: “It’s getting better. It may not appear that way to you, but we are working on it.”

But Harbaugh said he’s seen no evidence the public records office is improving. “If anything, things are getting worse,” he said.

But don’t trust me on Johnson Hall’s obsession with secrecy – read what the RG has to say about how they had to go to the District Attorney to force UO to release the public records:

The Register-Guard determined that the UO failed to provide at least 20 key branding-related documents. The newspaper knew the documents existed because they were referenced in emails that the university did release.

For example, the records the UO released mentioned numerous advertising and public relations conceptual and strategic papers and presentations, including slides, Powerpoints and other documents, that 160over90 and the UO had recently developed and were at the heart of the branding initiative. But the UO failed to provide those to the newspaper, even though they were clearly covered by the newspaper’s request.

In February, The Register-Guard petitioned the Lane County District Attorney’s Office, asking it to order the UO to provide the omitted documents and undo the redactions.

In mid-March, before the District Attorney’s Office ruled, the UO suddenly provided the newspaper with many of the missing documents, and also with previously redacted documents that the UO decided should not be blacked out after all.

On March 30, the District Attorney’s Office ordered the UO to un-redact a significant number of additional documents.

In his ruling, Assistant District Attorney Spencer Gwartney said the UO could black out parts of records based on federal student confidentiality law, and on exemptions to Oregon public records law in matters of trade secrets and personal privacy.

But Gwartney said the UO erred in claiming many documents could be blacked out under state public records law’s “internal advisory communications” exemption.

Gwartney ordered the UO to disclose all 34 pages that UO lawyers had blacked out, in full or in part, under the “internal advisory communications” claim. Gwartney said the UO had failed to establish that the UO’s need for secrecy outweighed the public’s interest in openness. The UO obeyed the order.

No transparency, no trust. Unfortunately that’s now a large part of the legacy of Scott Coltrane’s brief interim presidency.

Coltrane launches investigation of Klingeresque communications bloat

I’ll take this seriously when Coltrane starts taking Oregon’s public records law seriously, and makes Rob Mullens co-operate with Mike Andreasen on academic fundraising.

No indication there will be any reconsideration of the real money: the $20M UO Trustee Connie Ballmer is planning to dump on 160over90 branding crap.

Meanwhile, true to form, “AroundTheZero” can’t even figure out if VP Mike Andreasen or PR Flack Tim Clevenger is in charge of the review – but look, they’ve redesigned their logo again!

Here’s the announcement:

Today, UO President Scott Coltrane announced that he has directed Vice President Michael Andreasen to launch an internal review and assessment of campus marketing and communication efforts.

As part of the review to be led by Tim Clevenger, associate vice president for communications, marketing and brand management, information will be collected through conversations to determine levels of resource investment and to identify where those resources are dedicated. The review will also look for opportunities to be better coordinated.

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And here’s the rest of the email trail:

Campus Communicators,
Please see the information shared below from UO President Scott Coltrane to the leadership team about a review of campus marketing and communications efforts to occur during spring term. Many of you will likely hear from Tim Clevenger about next steps. As indicated below, the intent is to determine levels of resource investment and to identify where those resources are dedicated. The review will also look for opportunities to be better coordinated.

The information is also on AroundtheO: http://around.uoregon.edu/content/review-campus-marketing-and-communications-begin


From: Interim President Coltrane
Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 3:01 PM
To: Exec Leadership Team
Subject: Review of Campus Marketing and Communications


As part of our overall effort to become more efficient throughout our campus, I have directed Vice President Michael Andreasen to launch an internal review and assessment of our campus marketing and communication efforts. Among his charges are to determine our levels of resource investment and to identify where those resources are dedicated. If there are inefficiencies in our communications and marketing areas, we need to address them and make the necessary changes, never sacrificing the quality of work. In addition, Mike, along with Tim Clevenger, will examine how our campus communication efforts can be better coordinated.

When we returned to the University Advancement model in 2013, a similar review resulted in annual expenditure savings of $1.5 million, which was redirected to support faculty research endeavors.

During this review, which I expect to be completed by the end of the spring term, I have directed Human Resources to suspend and freeze all open and proposed communications and marketing-related job postings and placements. However, with approval from the Provost, select positions can move forward on an as-needed basis.

Thank you for your dedication to our public mission and for your assistance and support with this important effort. If you have thoughts and recommendations on this review process and/or regarding our overall communications efforts, I encourage you to reach out to Mike or Tim.


Scott Coltrane
Interim President

“What If ….” UO’s leadership was as decisive as OU’s …

… instead of dumping millions on sophomoric strategic communicators and 160over90 branders? The RG Editorial Board asks the question, here.

Update: It appears OU President Bowen may have been a little too decisive, in following up his move to disband the frat with a decision to expel two students. Bowen’s move would be a violation of UO’s Free Speech Policy, which states:

Free inquiry and free speech are the cornerstones of an academic institution committed to the creation and transfer of knowledge. Expression of diverse points of view is of the highest importance, not solely for those who present and defend some view but for those who would hear, disagree, and pass judgment on those views. The belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, and in any other way despicable, detestable, offensive or “just plain wrong” cannot be grounds for its suppression.

Eugene Volokh has more in the WaPo:

University of Oklahoma President David Boren has expelled two students for leading a racist chant. These students’ speech was indeed quite repugnant, but for reasons I discuss here, it’s protected by the First Amendment.

And here’s one reason why. Consider the president’s statement to the students: “You will be expelled because of your leadership role in leading a racist and exclusionary chant which has created a hostile educational environment for others.” Similar things could be said about a vast range of other speech. …

Tobin Klinger gets his nose pretty far up boss Tim Clevenger’s butt

From “Around the 0”, of course:

The chance to learn more about the UO’s first comprehensive, integrated communications initiative attracted more than 400 faculty, staff, students and alumni to three events held in Eugene and Portland over the past month.

Launched in January, the five-year communication effort is taking University of Oregon stories of excellence to the state of Oregon, the West Coast and to a national stage. The initiative works in conjunction with  the university’s $2 billion fundraising campaign, which will help it continue support for students and faculty with the resources they need to pursue research, follow their passions and compete on the international stage.

“This is a really exciting time to be at the University of Oregon, and we have more than one amazing story to tell,” said Tim Clevenger, associate vice president for communications, marketing and brand management. “Our athletic program has propelled us to national awareness, but we have even more stories from our academic side that complete the story about the University of Oregon. The collaboration and discovery here is truly unique, and we want to share that in bold ways.”

A significant part of the initiative is highlighting the expertise of UO faculty and the groundbreaking research happening on campus. Among the next steps is the establishment of a “media ambassadors” program, which will position faculty experts with national media and showcase the work of our faculty on leading topics.

“What inspires me most about the UO is the culture of freshness and curiosity that seems so deeply rooted here — from classroom to lab, studio to stadium,” said Lisa Freinkel, vice provost for undergraduate studies. “This verve to strive and question is what anchors transformative education and what undergirds a great research university. This new campaign nails it, I think. We’re finally finding a way to broadcast what makes us special.”

The university has been working with the agency 160over90 on the project, with the goal of helping capture the culture that is unique to the UO in a narrative that can be told and received across the state and on a national stage.

The effort will be paid for with private dollars from donors who want  to expand the conversation about the UO, the excellent work happening on campus and the bright future of opportunity that exists at the UO for students, the faculty and the entire state of Oregon.

The current three-year agreement with 160over90 is for $3.3 million to develop many creative projects, from websites and television commercials to brochures and advertisements. The entire $20 million initiative will also buy advertising and produce new, creative and engaging communication elements.

“We are extremely fortunate to have donors who understand the importance of telling the University of Oregon story. We are sharing the distinct UO brand to help us in the recruitment of students and faculty, in fundraising and in bolstering awareness across the country,” Clevenger said. “Our donors see this as a critical initiative that will help define the future of the university, the cities of Eugene and Springfield, the state of Oregon and the world, and we are beyond grateful.”

—By Tobin J. Klinger, Public Affairs Communications

What if … UO had unlimited money to piss away on branding crap?

Sorry for violating the one cuss-word policy, but this is getting discouraging. There are already 240 people in this office? OK, that includes the Schnitzer, but how many people are working on logos, fonts, and strategic sidewalk stencils?

Marketing Communications Strategist
University Advancement

Posting: 15046
Location: Eugene
Closes: Open Until Filled

Title:  Marketing Communications Strategist

Department:  University Advancement

Reports To:  Senior Creative Director, Marketing Communications

Term:  1.0 FTE for 12 months (renewable annually)

Salary Range:  $80,000 – $100,000

Review Date:  Search will remain open until filled. To ensure consideration, please submit application materials by March 3, 2015.

The University of Oregon seeks applications for the Marketing Communications Strategist position. The Marketing Communications unit provides design and editorial services to produce major informational and recruiting publications for the University of Oregon. It also provides creative services for selected offices across campus, including the Office of Enrollment Management, the UO Alumni Association, UO Foundation, the Schools and Colleges, and others. Professional writers, editors, and designers work with departmental clients to ensure that UO marketing communications materials are accurate, well written, well designed, conform to the UO style guidelines and communication standards, are targeted to appropriate audiences, and clearly the product of a distinguished institution of higher education.

University Advancement, of which Marketing Communications is a part, is responsible for strategically positioning the UO with its various constituents and securing resources to further its aims. The division consists of approximately 240 employees primarily working out of Eugene, with offices in Portland and Bend. Departments within University Advancement include: Advancement/UO Alumni Association; Communications, Marketing, and Brand Management; KWAX; University Development; Advancement Operations; Federal Affairs; State and Community Affairs; and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.

Reporting to the Senior Creative Director, Marketing Communications, the Marketing Communications Strategist serves as a liaison between the central Communications, Marketing and Branding team and designated schools, colleges, and administrative units. In this role, the strategist develops and provides ongoing management of unit-level marketing communications plans, working directly with unit leadership and communications teams to determine communications goals and priorities, develop and execute tactics to achieve those goals, and measure success. The strategist oversees the work of unit-level communications staffs and provides regular communications-plan updates and reports to the dean or other unit leadership. The strategist works closely with designated school, college, or unit-level leadership and communicators to articulate the specific communications goals and audiences for that unit, and to develop strategies, tactics, and methods of evaluation attuned to the needs of each unit.

As a member of the university’s central Communications, Marketing and Branding team, the strategist accesses the expertise and broad capacity of that team to provide specialized support to designated units in the areas of graphic design, copywriting and editing, web development and strategic support, media relations, project management, social media consultation, and other communication support as needed.

“What If” UO Public Records released contract showing we blew $1M on 160over90 branders?

They won’t of course. The first rule of Dave Hubin’s Public Records office is to delay, redact, and charge out the butt for anything that might conceivably embarrass the Johnson Hall administration, or even just help the public understand what the hell is going on at Oregon’s flagship public university.

So I asked UCLA. Here’s their contract with 160over90, same branders UO has hired. Very helpful folks at the PR office down there, I just emailed them and they sent the contract, no charge. They even offered to chase down some invoices they thought I might be interested in. Meanwhile, the contract and scope of work – for those with the stomach for 20 pages of marketing-speak – are here:

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University drops expensive, iffy branding scheme

That would be King’s College London. The Times has the report:

… Professor Byrne said the decision had been made to “keep that name [King’s College London] in every way, both as our official name and how we talk about ourselves”.

“So no more King’s London,” he added.

Professor Byrne, who took over King’s in August last year, also said he would not seek to change the university’s 22-year-old logo “for quite some time”.

“I just want things to settle down and get on with the more important things,” he said.

What the If?

I’ve put together a simple alternative UO homepage with useful UO links and no 160over90 branding crap, here.

12/31/2014 update:  We’re on the hook for 4 more years?

Wed., Dec. 31, 2014
University of Oregon Kicks Off Branding Push
By Kevin McCauley

The University of Oregon will use its Jan. 1 Rose Bowl (Pasadena) appearance to kick off a four-year branding initiative handled by the Newport Beach, Calif., office of Philadelphia headquartered 160over90 shop.

The push is to promote the idea its academic program is equivalent to the excellence of its athletics. …

12/29/2014: UO unveils new $5M web page and motto: “We believe in the power of if”.

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Apparently our 160over90 branding consultants are unfamiliar with the seminal (or should I say ovarian?) work on university web page design (thanks to SS for the link):

UO’s $5M academic brand campaign to take on “Go Ducks” steamroller at Rose Bowl

We’ve now got two PR machines fighting to get out different messages about UO. On the one hand there’s the “Go Ducks” brand, encouraging students to come to a party school with football-fueled binge drinking. Add to that the basketball rape allegations and the mismanaged administrative cover-up, and we’re really not delivering the right message to the world’s best and brightest seventeen-year-olds. Not to mention their parents.

In an effort to counteract this, UO Trustee Connie Ballmer has donated $5M to hire the “160over90” branders to develop an academic brand for UO, and get it out into the public. These efforts – which have had very mixed receptions at other schools – go live Jan 1.

Is this academic branding going to bring UO better undergrads and more graduate students, as BOT Chair Chuck Lillis has said we need? Or is it just an effort to try and counteract the damage done by the Duck brand? The fact that the first TV ad is scheduled for the Jan 1 Rose Bowl game (at a cost of $500K or so per minute?) suggests the latter.

UO’s academic side is now fighting an expensive advertising war with the Duck athletic department, to define what UO means. I wonder who will win? Besides strategic communicators like Tim Clevenger and “Duck Advocate” Tobin Klinger, I mean.

Tim Jaschik of InsideHigherEd has the post-mortem on 160over90’s efforts in Ohio:

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And Steve Duin has a rather skeptical take, in the Oregonian here.