Image blitz hits cable, ‘net in quest for future Reddies

Brandon Scott, Staff Writer

What does it take to make an image? Nine months and $185,000. At least that is what it has taken for a series of commercials, print ads and an Internet website that Henderson is calling its image campaign.

“Last summer, President Dunn charged us with the goal of increasing enrollment by 300 more students,” Doris Wright, vice president of institutional advancement, said. “This is the basic premise behind our image campaign.”

“We had no image before and we wanted to get more people to recognize Henderson,” Wright said. Henderson hired the Macintosh Group, an advertising agency, in the summer of 2002 to research and develop an image.

“The entire research process was bigger than what we thought it would be,” Dan Kirkpatrick, creative director for the Macintosh Group, said.

The research involved students and faculty from around the state. After realizing that the ultimate goal of the campaign was recruitment, Kirkpatrick decided that the focus age of the campaign would be 17.

After months of research, the group decided of the campaign would recognize the impact of the Internet on prospective students, recognize that students respond to peers when choosing colleges and recognize the need to target media and messages.

The entire campaign is focused around the website http://www.getreddie.com. The website offers incoming students the opportunity to browse through every organization on campus. There are also several student representatives and a list of activities they are involved in on the website. Clicking on a student starts a video where that student explains his or her role at Henderson.

Wrenette Tedder, a public relations marketing coordinator, was the central organizer of the students involved with different aspects of the campaign. “When trying to choose the students who would be on the website,” Tedder said, “I contacted the department heads and they recommended the students that we chose.”

The website is still under construction and organizations are encouraged to submit photos and other information to the public relations department.

“The uniqueness of this campaign is that television is not the primary medium being used,” Kirkpatrick said.

“It is the first time in my career that the Web has been the epicenter.”

The other media that the group is utilizing are newspapers and television. These media direct potential students and donors to the website.

The print advertisements for the image campaign focus on three achievements of Henderson. One of these is that Henderson graduates more Arkansas teachers than any other state. The other two ads highlight students who took the Law School Admissions Test were admitted to law school and the same achievements are analogous with the medical school, business school and graduate schools of education. The Macintosh Group found that “adults who have contributed $200 or more to education in the past year are 90 percent more likely than average adults to be heavy newspaper readers.” The newspaper ads will run for six weeks and will appear in major newspapers in central and southern Arkansas.

The final medium being used is television. Of the $185, 000 allotted for the image campaign, the cable commercials account for $110,700.

These commercials are aimed solely for recruitment purposes and will air during primetime hours. The advertising agency designed three commercials that target 16 and 17-year-olds who plan to attend college.

They found that these teenagers are “thirty-three percent more likely than average teens to be primetime television viewers.”

Two of the commercials that are being used in the campaign display a prospective student deciding on a university. The intentions of each commercial are different.

The first features a high school student weighing options between a local college and other universities. The commercial’s focus is the quality of education that Henderson offers and the price. The second commercial stars a young African American student wanting to “get away from home” and it is meant to appeal to the first generation student.

The Macintosh Group used actors in these two commercials, which has raised controversy among some students at Henderson.

“I was bothered by the fact that the first two commercials had actors that don’t attend HSU,” Jenny Vallas, senior English major said. “But, overall they are very professional and the networks on which they are being broadcast are great choices.”

The last commercial stars HSU student Taylor Carlisle. Carlisle is a senior Aviation major and is the current Miss Arkansas USA.

Originally, the Macintosh Group did not intend on using Carlisle, but after the Internet interview, they were impressed.

“We were worried about her performance because we had never worked with Taylor before,” Kirkpatrick said. “But, she is a talented and recognized icon for Henderson and it would be insensate to not put her in a spot.”

This commercial capitalizes on a known entity of Henderson and focuses on the campus atmosphere. It also shows other students from Henderson in many different settings.

On the finale night of Henderson Idol, many students got a first look at these commercials. There were various opinions of each one.

“I liked Taylor’s the best. It’s from a college student’s prospective and it shows a great campus environment,” Jonathan Easterling, junior physical education major said. “When you watch the commercial, you can really see the heart of Henderson in Taylor.”

Some students had a completely negative attitude about the commercials.

Katie Rabozzi, senior middle school math and science major expressed her concern. “The first two commercials were just plain cheesy,” she said. “Taylor’s was good, but we have more than just Miss HSU.”

Realizing the use of actors would be a concern, Kirkpatrick justified his means. “We used the actors because we had easier access to them. Our sets are in Little Rock and we had previously worked with these actors. It made the taping process very easy.”

The commercials are scheduled to air every day until April 13. They will be played during the primetime hours between 4 p.m. and midnight on MTV, TBS, USA, TNT, ESPN and Comedy Central.

The image campaign is still a work in progress and will continue to be.

Other scheduled changes include the revamping of the school home page http://www.hsu.edu.