PSAs and Commercial Spots: University of Alaska-Statewide - Silver Medal

Category 16: Electronic Media: PSAs and Commercial Spots
University of Alaska-Statewide, Fall Advertising Campaign

Contact: Kate Ripley, director of public affairs, 206 Butrovich Building, 910 Yukon Dr., Fairbanks, AK 99775, Phone: (907) 450-8102, e-mail:

Description of Project: The University of Alaska’s fall advertising campaign included a series of seven short videos of university students and their experience at the University of Alaska. The three spots submitted here were in rotation in Alaska as TV advertisements, and these spots and all other advertising pointed the viewer/reader to the Web site where the other four short videos can be viewed, along with bios of students featured. The campaign also included print, radio, social network Web site advertising and cinema slides.

Planning and Objectives: Our objectives for the UA Student Video campaign were to improve perceptions of the university and encourage prospective students to add it to their “consideration list” as a possible college choice. (Many Alaskan prospects have, in the past, considered state schools as a “fallback” alternative, but that issue has improved greatly over the last few years.) Overall our marketing is intended to “soften” the market for specific recruitment communications conducted by each major academic unit (major campus).

These spots were designed to promote the University of Alaska as an adventurous place, a challenging school, a place of excellence, and a college where students can have interesting experiences and meet others they can relate to – “people just like me.” We used settings and situations that increased comfort levels with the university as a college possibility. As the University of Alaska is a younger university, it has fewer traditions than many other institutions. Therefore, it is important to portray the university as a college choice that offers some of what students desire in a more traditional college experience.

Any television or video shoot for the University of Alaska always includes filming at each of the three primary campuses in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau, taking advantage of particular strengths and unique visual surroundings found at each campus.

Audience and why particular medium was used: The ad campaign was focused on a target audience of primarily 16-24 year old Alaskan prospective students. Because of the young audience demographic, the videos were intended to be a little rough looking – not like regular advertising. Advertising was being used as a portal to the Web site, however, because of the Web’s appropriateness as a medium for youth, the focus on Alaskan college-bound students, and the difficulty reaching this narrow group through the Web alone in Alaska. Television, in particular, was being used because of its broad reach and multi-sensory characteristics. Since this age group is difficult to reach through any single medium, our media buyers focused on narrow casting, placing the spots in dayparts, and on programming that was very specific. The multi-media function of the campaign allowed us to gain the frequency we needed with this target audience.

Resources: Each TV spot cost $16,500 to film, produce and edit. These three together amounted to just under $50,000. The advertising team consisted of a creative director, a video editor, a production coordinator, a project manager, and supervisor as well as a university representative. We also used an outside film crew of three.

Results or Response: The UA Student Video campaign ran in all mediums through the end of November 2006 with the viral ads running an extra month. As of February 27, 2007, the Web site had received more than 4600 unique visitors. A quantitative telephone survey with college-bound Alaska students was conducted mid-December with the following results:

  • Among those that recall advertising, more than nine in ten respondents (93 percent) recall advertising for one or more of the University of Alaska schools on an unaided basis.
  • Three in five respondents had positive impressions of the university advertising. About one in five comments were neutral; very few were negative.