Be the Bear - University Launches Branding Campaign

Mercer this month launched a major branding campaign designed to raise the level of awareness of the University among prospective students and parents and further engage alumni and friends in supporting the institution. Featuring the tagline “Be the Bear,” the campaign was developed in conjunction with TG Madison, an Atlanta advertising and marketing firm.

Market research conducted by TG Madison last fall showed that while the University is known for its heritage of producing leaders, attracting high-achieving students, offering a broad range of academic programs and promoting a strong service ethos, it lacked a rallying cry for its constituents. Research findings also reinforced the opportunity that Mercer has to tell its story more effectively to an even greater number of high-ability high school students, prospective graduate and professional students, and other audiences.

In short, Mercer needed a stronger identity.

The firm recommended positioning Mercer as “the Southern university known for igniting leaders.” After testing several creative concepts with focus groups, a clear consensus developed around the tagline “Be the Bear” that plays off the University’s mascot.

“We believe ‘Be the Bear’ can serve as a strong rallying cry for Mercer’s constituents and also communicate to prospective students and other audiences the unique qualities associated with our university,” said Larry D. Brumley, senior vice president for marketing communications and chief of staff. “It has a bit of an attitude to it, but allows us to develop messaging that breaks through the clutter and articulates the personal and professional accomplishments of our students and alumni.”

The branding campaign is initially focused on the Atlanta market, where more than 17,000 Mercer alumni live and where a large number of students call home. To help kick off the campaign, the University has invited alumni to an Aug. 28 event at the Fox Theatre, where President William D. Underwood will encourage Mercerians to help raise the University’s visibility and to “Be the Bear” in Atlanta by proudly touting their institutional loyalty.

Print ads are appearing in Georgia Trend magazine and the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and radio spots are running on Atlanta stations WSB, WABE and WCNN. Much of the campaign, however, is appearing online through demographically targeted ads on Web sites such as AJC.com and through social media sites like Facebook. Out-of-home components include sky banners and displays at Lenox Square, Phipps Plaza, and Perimeter Square malls.

The “Be the Bear” theme also is being deployed through extensive advertising for Mercer’s Working Adult Programs in the Atlanta and Central Georgia areas. This component of the campaign is designed to increase market-wide awareness of the undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies, Tift College of Education and Stetson School of Business and Economics that are tailored toward working adults who are seeking professional advancement. It likewise employs print, radio and online components.

“We believe this is a concept that we can use for years to come,” Brumley said. “There are so many great Mercer stories we can tell around the “Be the Bear” theme. Our goal is to expand this campaign beyond the Atlanta and Central Georgia areas in the future and thereby raise the University’s visibility throughout the Southeast and the nation.”

A special landing page has been created on the Mercer web site to handle inquiries generated by the advertising. The URL is www.mercer.edu/bear.

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