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American Today

Campus News

American on the Air During Inauguration Coverage

By Mike Unger

Washingtonians watching historic inauguration day coverage from the comfort of their couches will see something else novel during some commercial breaks: spots for American University.

Now through March, with an increasing frequency through Jan. 20, AU television commercials will run on WJLA ABC 7 and on cable’s News Channel 8. The ad, produced by Ed Reahl Productions, highlights AU’s unique ability to produce students who can work toward solving the serious problems facing the country today.

“The message is very consistent with the vision statement in our new strategic plan,” said Terry Flannery, executive director of University Communications and Marketing. “The nation and world are facing historic challenges. One university—American—is positioned to provide the intellectual leadership, based on our academic strengths, location, and advantages, to help address those challenges. Our faculty, our scholars, our students and graduates are in a position to make a difference. They are uniquely prepared to develop solutions to historic challenges, and their legacy will have lasting influence, here in Washington, across the nation, and around the world. There is no better time and no better place to prepare to be part of that process than at American University.”

AU decided to quickly move forward with development of a 30-second institutional spot in part to take advantage of potential free air time available during its televised men’s basketball games this season.

“I would not normally want to be out with a commitment to advertising until we completed our research among stakeholders in preparation for developing a strategic brand position for the university,” Flannery said. “However, that’s free air time when some of our important audiences are tuned in. We wanted to do something we could be proud of, which would require some investment, but it would be a waste to make that investment and only air it four times in a cable environment. So we were looking for ways to make it do more work for us and increase the value. We were fortunate that the deans and provost thought the way to make it work was to develop a version that supports graduate recruitment efforts.”

The media buy includes Web advertising on the WJLA and News Channel 8 sites.

“They drive viewers to a landing page with more information about our colleges and schools, graduate degree programs and information sessions, and we will be tracking Internet activity as well as viewership to evaluate the overall value,” Flannery said.

The process was a successful collaboration between University Communications and Marketing and the schools and colleges, Flannery said.

“Even on a lean production budget with a very short time frame, we were able to work together to present American University and the power of its graduate programs in a very effective way,” she said. “I want everyone to wait and see what more we can do with appropriate resources and a fully developed strategy. This spot is something we can be proud of, but watch what is possible when we have all our tools fully deployed.”