Super Bowl brings talk of ads at university

Temple aired the “Stella” ad locally for the Super Bowl.

Karen Clarke explains the “Take Charge” ad during a Thursday interview. | Kara Milstein TTN
Karen Clarke explains the “Take Charge” ad during a Thursday interview. | Kara Milstein TTN

The second wave of the university’s “Take Charge” advertising campaign that started in October 2014 started with a regional advertisement that aired during Super Bowl XLIX.

Two commercials were put to a vote on the campaign’s website, both of which are identical except for the ending, which showed either Stella the Owl or Morgan Hall and the Philadelphia skyline in the final frame of the advertisement. The Stella version ended up winning the contest with 4,412 out of 7,163 votes, and ran between the third and fourth quarters of the game on Sunday.

Karen Clarke, vice president for strategic marketing and communications, said she wanted to give students the opportunity to pick an advertisement because much of her budget comes from student tuition.

She added that initially, she didn’t want to pursue broadcasting a Super Bowl advertisement because of the $4.5 million price tag for a 30-second television spot. But once she heard from NBC that Temple could run a commercial in just the Philadelphia area for a much cheaper price, the deal became possible.

Clarke declined to comment how much the Super Bowl ad specifically cost, but did say that the advertisement on Sunday was the beginning of a three-week deal with NBC that cost less than $200,000. She added that this type of deal was completed because Temple doesn’t have the budget to run several ads on a daily basis.

“What we do is use a marketing technique called ‘focused impact,’” Clarke said. “It’s where you flood the marketplace for a period of time. It’s like Google ads – you see a whole bunch of them over a three-week period, and then you don’t see them for a while. That makes an impression, you get more people to see them.”

Clarke added that she was initially going to purchase a period from mid-February through March, but when she heard that she had an opportunity to run a commercial during the Super Bowl, she moved the period sooner to start on Feb. 1.

Clarke said she wanted to start a new wave of advertisements on Super Bowl Sunday, in order to increase alumni awareness of the university’s brand.

According to university data, among a pool of 300,000 living Temple alumni, 89 percent are “not engaged” with their alma mater. Clarke said she hopes the new phase of “Take Charge” changes that.

“That’s why I spend money on awareness advertising,” she said. “There’s this huge group of people who have experience with Temple, and it’s my belief that their perception, for whatever reason [is] they’re not engaged, they don’t feel like it’s relevant or they have a misinformed view of what Temple is.”

“If we’re going to get them engaged so that they continue to support Temple in a variety of ways … we’ve got to get them engaged a little bit more,” Clarke added. “We have to have more people embrace us. If you did this [data research] for Penn State, it would almost be exactly the opposite.”

Helping Clarke promote awareness is Marketing Coordinator Kaitlyn Sutton, who graduated from Temple this past May with a degree in strategic communication. Sutton said the “Take Charge” campaign is also important among students because there isn’t enough awareness about the value of attending Temple.

“There’s not enough pride on campus,” Sutton said. “Being able to go into a Penn State or a Syracuse and say, ‘I’m from Temple, and this is why we’re great,’ is so vital to a university’s future.”

Clarke said Sutton had been involved since the start of the campaign’s development last year, which led to her hiring as marketing coordinator in July.

“Take Charge” has received positive coverage from news outlets like NBC and WHYY during the past couple of weeks. But even with the recent success, Sutton said more can be done to increase alumni and student engagement.

“We need to get everyone, all of our students and Temple community, to hold true to this and make sure we’re all united in this front of ‘Take Charge,’” Sutton said. “This campaign is doing a good job at [that], but our work is not over, it has just begun.”

Steve Bohnel can be reached at or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel

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