The multi million-dollar effort of brand authenticity, recruiting new students

Marketing overview at Oakland University

Budget focused on brand authenticity, recruiting new students

With the recent tuition increase, expenses at Oakland University are under scrutiny.  As the university grows, however, expenses grow as well. 

The Communications and Marketing Department has the heavy task of balancing a growing population while maintaining cost efficiency. 

According to John Young, vice president of Communications and Marketing, the overall budget for the Centralized University Communications and Marketing for the 2015-2016 academic year is $6,103,994. This money goes towards all general advertising efforts of the university, salaries for marketing staff and other expenses in the department.

The marketing budget is part of the president’s division of the General Fund Budgeted Expenditures. The president’s division total budget for the 2015 fiscal year is $16,992,118 and $16,682,188 for the 2016 fiscal year.  This division of the overall budget covers the president’s salary, Communications and Marketing, Diversity and Compliance, General Council, Government Relations, Athletics and Outreach. 

For comparison, the 2016 fiscal year overall budget of the university comes to $253,754,100.

“This is all-inclusive for the university’s official efforts,”Young said. “There are marketing dollars in certain other budgets that coordinate with us but have very specific audience goals.” 

Marketing projects remain pretty constant from year to year as Bryan Cain, director of marketing, explained.  Each advertising campaign on television plays through recruitment season (the beginning of September to the end of November) and then starts up again at the beginning of January, in order to avoid the increased cost of advertising during the holiday season.

The recent renovations to the billboard on the corner of Walton and Adams is funded through annual rent payments by Palace Entertainment & Sports in their contract concerning Meadow Brook Music Festival. The contract allows for Palace Sports & Entertainment to rent out the Meadow Brook Music Festival for shows. 

The department focuses on Oakland’s brand of authenticity. This is shown as the department uses actual students and staff in as many advertisements as possible. 

“Our advertising budget is focused primarily on undergrad recruitment and graduate recruitment,” Mandy Summers, director of communications and marketing, college and schools, said.

When asked if any advertisements had assisted his decision to attend Oakland, Nick Lucido, communication major, said, “No..but I see them everywhere all around metro Detroit.”

Other students like Courtney Davis stated that programs such as dance camps held at the university allowed her to experience Oakland’s atmosphere firsthand, before deciding to come here. 

“Now that I attend Oakland, I feel as if I see advertisements at least one to three times a day, every day,” Davis added. 

Students obviously see advertisements, though their return on investment is not easily tracked. 

Cain explained that click through rateson OU’s online advertisements, though, are above industry standards and that last year a billion impressions were made by advertisements.

An impression is defined as “presenting an advertisement to a potential user or customer,”Cain said. 

The department’s regional advertising covers Indiana, northern Ohio, northern Illinois and the entirety of Michigan with a focus on the southeast area. 

Oakland’s impressive growth speaks for itself, and the ubiquitous nature of advertisement for the university are encouraging trends in reference to marketing efforts made by the university.  Future population trends and return on investment statistics will hopefully further assert these efforts. 

If you would like to learn more about the Communications and Marketing Department, visit