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Trailblazer campaign earns national award

January 9, 2015 — 

The University of Manitoba’s Trailblazer campaign has won an important national branding award for its impact and long-term success.

McKim Communications Group, the agency which worked with the University of Manitoba to develop the advertising campaign, has been named a finalist for a prestigious national CASSIE award in the “Long-Term Success” category. On February 19 the University will find out if the campaign will receive the bronze, silver or gold award.

McKim President and CEO Peter George told the Winnipeg Free Press that the CASSIEs are unique in their focus on the need to demonstrate impact as well as on creative excellence.

“The CASSIEs are about the effectiveness of the advertising,” he said. “You’ve got to prove it.”

The Trailblazer campaign launched in 2011 and immediately earned notice and sparked engagement through its unique design and bold Manitoba-inspired message.

“The long‐term sustainability and vitality of any university is tied closely with its ability to recruit the best faculty, staff and students and engage with donors, alumni, government, industry and the community,” said Dr. David Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manitoba. “A university with a strong reputation, one whose stories resonate with the community, is enabled in its ability to achieve its mission to create, preserve, communicate and apply knowledge, contributing to the cultural, social and economic well-being of the people of Manitoba, Canada and the world. The Trailblazer campaign has contributed to the University’s ability to do so.”

External surveys conducted for the University of Manitoba in 2009 and 2014 found that the percentage of prospective students who identify their impression of the institution as “very favourable” increased 11 per cent and the number of prospective students considering attending has increased nine per cent. Over the same period, enrolment at the University has increased, reaching record highs in 2013 and 2014.

“Recruiting top talent and attracting the best students require telling the story of the institution, its people and its impact,” said Dr. Joanne Keselman, Vice-President (Academic) and Provost. “This campaign has done so in an effective way, contributing to a dynamic learning environment of talented faculty, staff and students.”

In an early iteration, the campaign encouraged students to “Define” themselves as trailblazers, challengers, visionaries and innovators through a social media video contest which attracted hundreds of entries from students telling their own stories of discovery and achievement.

Another aspect of the campaign featured University of Manitoba researchers including Dr. Soren Rysgaard, Ms. Karen Busby, Dr. James Blanchard, Dr. Wanda Wuttunee, Dr. Annemieke Farenhorst, Mr. Steve Kirby, and Dr. Cyrus Shafai.

“This advertising campaign provided a platform for us to showcase the discoveries and ongoing accomplishments of researchers making an impact in a variety of fields including Arctic climate change, human rights, global population health, Indigenous achievement and soil science,” said Dr. Digvir Jayas, Vice-President (Research and International). “The campaign’s celebration of the world-class researchers at the University of Manitoba has promoted the institution as a place where the best, brightest and most innovative scholars do their work.”

Vice-President (External) John Kearsey said the impact of the Trailblazer campaign is also being felt in the community’s engagement with the University, as it undertakes the recently introduced Front and Centre $500 million fundraising campaign. In 2013/2014 the University’s fundraising efforts achieved $25 million. With almost three months left in the University’s fiscal year, that number has already increased significantly.

“Our donors are responding to the stories of our students and researchers in ways that inspire them to support scholarships and awards; innovative teaching and research spaces; Indigenous achievement and an enhanced student experience. As of December 31, fundraising efforts have surpassed $30 million in 2014/2015,” said John Kearsey, Vice-President (External). “These stories have touched the hearts and minds of Manitobans and our alumni and friends around the world.”

Paul Kochan, Vice-President (Administration) said the University of Manitoba spends less than one per cent of its operating budget budget on promotion and advertising. Since 2008/2009, overall external relations costs as a percentage of total operating expenses have remained tenth among the 15 Canadian medical-doctoral universities. Like all units at the University, External Relations has been asked to plan for a four per cent budget reduction for the coming fiscal year.

“The University spends effectively and prudently in this area to support its connection with donors, alumni, future students and the community,” he said. “This is an investment in our students, an investment in our faculty and an investment in our overall campus community.”

The Trailblazer campaign has effectively helped advance the mission and vision of the University helping the University take its place among leading universities.

“Beyond building its reputation and attracting additional financial support in order to more effectively achieve its mission, a university – as a public institution – has a responsibility to be accountable, to provide ongoing, demonstrable evidence of its value to the community and society at large and of its potential to impact and influence the future,’’ said Dr. Barnard.

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