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The Journal Gazette

  • Purdue Fort Wayne will begin a billboard advertising campaign next week to attract students to the former IPFW campus. (Courtesy Purdue Fort Wayne)

Thursday, June 14, 2018 1:00 am

University to begin billboard blitz

36 signs 'with purpose' part of PFW rebranding effort

RON SHAWGO | The Journal Gazette

Rebranding itself for a new era, Purdue University Fort Wayne will leave IPFW behind as it installs billboards next week looking toward its future.

The billboards – 36 of them – will be concentrated in Fort Wayne, though some will be scattered throughout the region. Plans are to place them along Interstate 69 and as far away as West Lafayette, home to Purdue's main campus, and U.S. 30 toward Chicago. They also will be found at airports in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.

The signs come as IPFW concludes its 54-year run July 1, when Purdue and Indiana University officially end their management agreement for the school.

Each billboard carries variations of the phrase “with purpose,” such as “learn with purpose” and “pursue with purpose.” Technically called a unique selling proposition or brand mantra, the phrase grew out of a series of branding workshops involving campus and community participants, said Jerry Lewis, PFW's interim vice chancellor for communications and chief marketing officer.

“It's basically the one big idea you keep in mind as you create everything that is marketing related,” said Lewis, who began his job in February. “You try to keep it so as, ... you don't want it to be fake. You don't want it to be superficial.”

Focus groups – separately made up of alumni, faculty, students, parents and others – were shown the ad campaign and liked it, he said.

A single tag line was too limiting and something people would tire of, Lewis said. The phase means a lot of things and points to something people hold dear. Pairing “with purpose” with other words provides various ways to express ideas “without beating the words to death,” he added.

“The more that we talked with people, when we talked through that notion of 'with purpose,' it sort of jelled with me too,” Lewis said. “I'm a newcomer to the community, so I'm learning about the university, hearing all of this in a fresh kind of way, and it really seemed to resonate.”

Most will be “static” billboards and not digital, Lewis said. Because digital billboards are scarce and waiting lists are common, the school currently has access to two. Lewis said the 36 billboards are a start and more will likely be added.

rshawgo@jg.net