OXFORD – In marketing terms, the dual names “University of Mississippi” and “Ole Miss” constitute a consumer brand.
Two executives are focusing on enhancing the value of that brand.
Jim Ebel, executive director of marketing communications, was executive-in-residence at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga before coming to Ole Miss. With his firm, CenterBrain, he helped position brands as diverse as Bridgestone, Huggies and Elmer’s.
“This brand – Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi – is an incredibly rich brand, but it is underdeveloped,” Ebel said. “People say you have to experience it to ‘get it.’ But I want people to get it without having to experience it. That’s the sign of a well-developed brand.”
Wendy Carmean will work with Ebel as director of brand marketing. For six years an assistant director of the Alumni Association, the Oxford native brings to the effort a knowledge of the Ole Miss campus and community.
“Our vision for the department is to eventually have brand managers – like an agency – who work closely with campus department leaders to build the brand and provide marketing for their departments and the university,” Carmean said.
The effort to project both the emotion and the substance of the university is focusing this year on the “Experience Amazing” campaign.
On the campus Web site already, it offers tastes of the university’s current achievements – preparing students for intelligence careers, searching out the causes of heart disease in black populations and testing the soundness of levees and dams, among many others.
Ebel said constituent test groups unknowingly named the campaign.
“When they began to hear the stories about the remarkable things we were doing in research and service, the word ‘Amazing’ kept coming out of their mouths,” he said.
The campaign will have a broad campus presence in banners as students arrive for the fall semester, and it is being expanded with two-minute video vignettes on ESPN’s Academic Network.
Thirty-second versions of the stories will be aired each time this academic year that an Ole Miss athletic team plays a televised game.
Ebel said the university’s branding effort will not change such symbols as the “Ole Miss” script logo or the ubiquitous Lyceum seal. Rather, he said, “We’ll add consistency in using the existing brand elements.”
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal