Ad campaign paints town red

A $115,000 ad campaign decorates the streets and subways of Philadelphia.

Flags boasting Temple’s 125th anniversary aren’t only throughout Main Campus. They are also prominently displayed at City Hall and at TUCC. This campaign continues until the end of the year (Anna Zhilkova/TTN).

Christopher Dragani’s eyes widened when he heard “the facts.”

Temple has spent a combined $115,000 on two elements of its “125 Facts” advertising campaign.

“That’s a lot of money,” the junior finance major said, shaking his head. Dragani did not notice the ads displayed on the walls of the 35 SEPTA subway cars these past few weeks.

The advertisements on the subway accompany a $50,000 price tag and will run for a total of eight weeks, according to numbers obtained by The Temple News.

During the month of May, a “Suburban domination” campaign will cover SEPTA’s Suburban Station with floor-to-ceiling Temple ads costing $65,000. A similar campaign ran during the month of January at 30th Street Station. The price of the former is unknown and could not be provided.

“We are looking to get the most bang for our buck,” said Vice President of Institutional Advancement Stuart Sullivan. “Our [advertising] budgets are much, much smaller than other universities.”

Sullivan said he could not offer specifics on the amount of “bucks” spent on individual aspects of the “125 Facts” campaign.

This summer, the highway to the Jersey Shore will be lined with billboards marketing the same factual advertisements, which Sullivan said will cost “a few thousand or so.”

He emphasized he did “not want to give numbers” because he didn’t have the information in front of him.

Titan Outdoor, the ad agency that SEPTA employs, declined to disclose any financial information in affiliation with Temple but said the company is “a proud partner of Temple University and hopes to continue that in the future.”

Temple places ads through Harmelin Media, an agency founded by Temple alumna Joanne Harmelin. Representatives from the agency declined to comment and notified The Temple News that the university knew the paper was trying to obtain facts and figures.

The company alerted vendors associated with the campaigns and said The Temple News would “not be getting much information” if it persisted.

During the 2006-2007 fiscal year, $3,709,000 was spent on advertising. The figures for 2008-2009 FY were not available at press time.

In a Jan. 30, 2009 article with Chief Financial Officer Anthony Wagner, TTN reported, “The budget cut has forced the university to reduce spending for Temple’s 125th anniversary celebration.”

However, Sullivan said the “125 Facts” promotion is not necessarily a part of the 125th anniversary celebration but rather “the next logical step” as a follow-up to the “‘T’ Means More” campaign that had been previously used to publicize the university.

As for the 125th anniversary flags being blown by winds around Main Campus, TUCC and City Hall, Sullivan said the flags have “a life expectancy of six months” and are replaced annually, no matter what the design.

“With the 125 facts, we are trying to shift the perception of Temple from what it used to be,” Sullivan said. “The previous campaign was more of a branding campaign. We wanted people to associate Temple with those words, but we didn’t inform them of anything.”

Now, subway cars are filled with numbered facts about Temple, followed by the “125 Facts” Web site. Fact No. 7 informs riders that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the Baptist Temple in 1965, while fact No. 27 says “Temple University generates $2.7 billion for the Delaware Valley each year.”

According to an outside source who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Temple purchased an entire subway car, which includes two interior posters, a ceiling wrap and four 33-by-21-foot posters. Any additional advertisements were “extra.”

“Suburban domination” is replacing the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s current campaign in Suburban Station, located in Center City near City Hall.

Sullivan said since Temple is state-related, it often pays less than regular businesses. How much less the university dishes out is unknown.

The point of the “125 Facts” campaign is to inform, Sullivan said.

“There are alumni that haven’t been back in 25 years,” he said, adding Temple has changed significantly over the past decade. “Things [at Temple] are happening today, and we need to inform alumni, community leaders and businessmen, and that is what this campaign is really about. It causes them to sit back and say, ‘Wow, maybe I should rethink what [Temple] is about.’”

Junior risk management major Sibanengi Masuku disagrees, saying most people riding SEPTA will pay no attention to the ads.

“People who ride SEPTA every day are employees who aren’t looking to go to school or people who are already students or attending community college,” Masuku said. “[Temple] can’t continue to do these ads and open houses. They need to do open enrollment in high schools.”

When asked about whether ads featuring facts about the university are an efficient advertising method to attract prospective students, Sullivan said the campaign’s focus is to increase the university’s notoriety.

He also defended the money being spent on advertising and said Temple was saving money by using SEPTA rather than traditional radio, television and newspaper outlets.

After the “‘T’ Means More” campaign, the university hired a professional marketing research company to find out what types of advertisements had been the most effective. It turned out that, in comparison, the amount of money paid for TV commercials was not as valuable as outdoor ad campaigns.

“Outdoor transit is a much more efficient form of advertising,” the anonymous source said. “Media today has too many distractions. Say you’re watching American Idol tonight and a commercial comes on. People are likely to TiVo through it or talk and hang out.”

However, Temple is not abandoning television. Sullivan said Temple is in talks with 6ABC to advertise next fall using “target specific” messages, none of which will be paid for by Temple.

“The goal is to get [the advertisements] paid and sponsored for by companies,” Sullivan said.
He also added Temple gets a few freebies as well.

Two billboards on Interstate-76 are offered to Temple free of charge when other companies are not using them. Currently, one entering the city reads, “Fact No. 14: Six Super Bowl champion teams since 2001 have included former Temple football players.” In addition, an alumnus in Harrisburg, Pa., provides two additional billboards.

Temple does not do a great deal of advertising outside the greater Philadelphia region, Sullivan said.
“Believe it or not, the farther you get from Philadelphia, the better Temple’s reputation,” Sullivan said. “On the street, people take us for granted. We need to remind them what Temple is and what we have done for the area.”

The “125 Facts” campaign, which Sullivan said he hopes will “help solidify the reality of Temple,” will run through December 2009, with the advertising theme and attached price tag for 2010 remaining “up for grabs.”

Ashley Nguyen can be reached at

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