Marketing campaign stresses student ‘grit’

More “Take Charge” television ads will begin airing this month.

“Take Charge” advertisements were placed on the turnstiles at the Cecil B. Moore subway station. Bradley Vassallo | TTN
“Take Charge” advertisements were placed on the turnstiles at the Cecil B. Moore subway station. Bradley Vassallo | TTN

Across Main Campus and throughout Philadelphia, cherry-colored advertisements have popped up on billboards, in the airport, in subway stations and on buses.

The new ads are all part of Temple’s new branding campaign, titled “Take Charge.” Karen Clarke, vice president for strategic marketing and communications, said the campaign focuses on what she calls the proactive nature of Temple students and alumni.

“Temple students don’t wait for things to be handed to them,” Clarke said. “They actually step forward, take initiative, they take charge.”

The campaign, which started in October 2014, was created by Temple’s marketing team in collaboration with One Sixty Over Ninety Inc., a branding agency located just south of City Hall. The agency has worked previously with Michigan State and Notre Dame, along with companies like Nike and Mercedes-Benz.

One aspect of the campaign that remains from last year is the “Temple Made” hashtag, which Clarke said was important but also created some obstacles that “Take Charge” looks to overcome.

“‘Temple Made’ is kind of past tense,” Clarke said. “You’re ‘Temple Made’ once you graduate … students and recent alums really rallied around that feeling because that defined them … [but] there were some donors who said, ‘If you’re Self-Made, Philly-Made, Temple-Made, what do you need my money for?’ So we want people to feel engaged so that they support scholarships and other kinds of things.”

Clarke added that “Temple Made” is starting to become Temple’s “secret handshake,” helping to bridge gaps between those who aren’t students or alums to the university.

Clarke said several student organizations on Main Campus – including Temple Student Government, PRowl and Diamond Edge – helped in the process of creating the campaign.

Student Body President Ray Smeriglio said TSG brainstormed ideas for the campaign with Temple’s marketing team and One Sixty Over Ninety in order to create something that represents the diverse student body at Temple.

Smeriglio also has appeared in the TV ads for the campaign, which he said helps portray multiple aspects of  Temple students.

“This [campaign] really captures the breath of a Temple student,” Smeriglio said. “Not just the academic side, but the social side, the working side, the city-life side.”

He added that this depiction will help encourage those looking at Temple as a college choice to apply and enroll.

“The prospective-student piece is extremely important,” Smeriglio said. “Students that are coming to Temple are students that identify with this model, with this campaign … so you’re getting the [same type] of student to keep this community going.”

Even though many advertisements are already present throughout Philadelphia and the TV spots have been on-air for the past couple of months, Clarke said there is still work to be done.

“You’ll start to see [another] wave of advertisements coming at the end of January,” Clarke said. “That will involve television ads where we can really tell our story in different ways … it will be designed to target different kinds of audiences to really help make Temple relevant to them whomever they may be.”

Clarke said the entire cost of the campaign thus far has been about $650,000, with the bulk of expenses allocated to research and planning, which has cost around $250,000. The next largest sum was the initial planning and development of materials, which was approximately $150,000.

Because Temple’s marketing division is a central administrative unit, much of the funding for these campaigns come from student tuition, Clarke said. She projects the future costs of the campaign will be slightly more than the first phase this past fall, but is still deciding exactly how much to spend.

“I want to look at opportunities where we advertise smart,” Clarke said. “All of it can’t be centered right here in Philadelphia … it’s really important that people outside of Philadelphia start to understand and know Temple. That to me is a really important goal of our marketing campaign.”

Similarly, Smeriglio hopes “Take Charge” causes Temple students to make an impact after they graduate.

“I think it’s transcendent in that [you’re] taking charge not only at Temple, but after you leave as well,” Smeriglio said. “Going out into the community, going out into the workplace, taking charge and representing not only yourself very well but representing Temple University.”

Steve Bohnel can be reached at, at 215.204.7419 or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel

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