Marketing RFP Issued By Texas A&M University

The Division of Marketing & Communications at Texas A&M University (Texas A&M), is seeking proposals from qualified respondents to serve as the university’s Lead Agency for a period of three (3) years. The Lead Agency will provide creative and marketing services in the development and implementation of a national marketing campaign aimed at achieving the university’s strategic marketing objectives (Appendix B). Preference will be given to respondents who can demonstrate: 

• Experience executing advertising and marketing campaigns on a national scale;

• Outstanding skills in brand strategy and creative storytelling;

• Proven success coordinating multi-channel marketing tactics;

• Successful management of institutional branding and messaging for matrix organizations.

By submitting proposals to this request, respondents certify a clear understanding of this Request for Proposal (RFP) and full knowledge of the scope, nature, quality and quantity of the work to be performed, the detailed requirements of the services to be provided, and the conditions under which the services are to be performed. Respondents also certify the understanding that all costs related to preparing and responding to this RFP will be the sole responsibility of the Respondent. 

RESPONDENTS ARE ADVISED TO READ THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS RFP CAREFULLY AND TO SUBMIT A COMPLETE RESPONSE TO ALL REQUIREMENTS AND QUESTIONS AS DIRECTED.

Background:

Texas A&M University is one of the largest universities in the U.S., with Fall 2019 enrollment reaching nearly 70,000 students. What began in 1876 as the state’s first institution of higher learning, has grown to become a world leader in teaching, research and service, with an international reputation for excellence in both academics and athletics. Texas A&M is one of only 17 universities in the nation to hold a land-, sea- and space-grant triple designation, and ranks third in National Science Foundation (NSF) funding, with nearly $1 billion in annual research grants.

The university is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), and maintains branch campuses in Galveston, Texas, Doha, Qatar, and the Higher Education Center in McAllen, Texas. Texas A&M offers 130 undergraduate and 268 graduate degrees, and sends more students to study abroad than any other public university in the U.S., and second only to the private New York University. The flagship campus in College Station is located within three hours from five of the nation’s 20 largest cities (Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin) and is home to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum and The Bush School of Government and Public Service. The alumni—referred to as “former students” in the Texas A&M vernacular—make up the Aggie Network and number more than 500,000 members globally. With world-class faculty, an engaged student population, and loyal fan base, the Texas A&M University brand is built on a strong foundation.

1.3 Background and Current Environment

The Division of Marketing & Communications administered an extensive university brand audit that resulted in a “one brand” approach to Texas A&M’s visual identity. Prior to this 2006 initiative, Texas A&M’s identity was visually fragmented with different logos, color palettes and messaging styles applied to marketing and communications collateral from academic, research and administrative units. While efforts were made to guide and educate campus stakeholders on the value of consistent branding, it wasn’t until a 2011 presidential mandate requiring all campus units to follow university brand guidelines that a consistent visual identity for Texas A&M University was achieved. Historically, the :30-second spot offered to all universities during televised NCAA athletic competition was the extent of the university’s national advertising. Since the majority of the budget was dedicated to producing the public service announcement (PSA), advertising was limited to occasional state and regional placements. The PSA would then serve as the marketing theme for subsequent creative. Examples of marketing themes created under this model over the past decade include:

Welcome to Aggieland (2007), which focused on a feel-good sense of place and the friendliness of the campus

• It’s Time for Texas A&M (2012), which coincided with the university’s move to the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and included a news and monthly content strategy called “12 Impacts of the 12th Man” or “12 for 12”

• What You Stand For (2014), aimed at linking the university’s prominent athletic traditions with academic excellence

In 2015, Texas A&M partnered with a creative agency to launch the university’s first-ever comprehensive national advertising campaign. The theme Fearless on Every Front was developed to complement the Lead by Example $4 billion support campaign that had been in progress for more than a year. The Fearless Front campaign was created from intensive discovery sessions with input from a wide array of university constituents, including deans, faculty and administrators, as well as marketing and communications professionals from across campus. It is important to note that simultaneous to the creation and execution of the Fearless Front campaign, the university was working with a research firm on public opinion surveys aimed at a General Population and a Graduate Student Population (each included a Texas and National scope). All data and reports from these 2016 surveys will be made available to the Lead Agency selected from this RFP. Access to this material is intended to compress the discovery period. While no follow-up survey has been conducted to measure Fearless Front campaign success, this is currently under consideration.

Scope of Work:

Texas A&M seeks to retain a qualified vendor to serve as the university’s Lead Agency for a period of three (3) years to support the development and implementation of a national, integrated marketing campaign aimed at achieving the university’s strategic marketing objectives. Texas A&M is looking for a Lead Agency to provide compelling, memorable creative that will stand out in the ubiquitous higher ed landscape, and get noticed in the crowded R&D/innovation landscape. The Lead Agency will work as a partner with in-house creative teams, and will work with existing university vendors for media buying and web development for maximizing an integrated marketing campaign. While Texas A&M has been successful in unifying its visual identity, marketing and communications efforts across campus remain decentralized. One of the primary goals of a national marketing campaign is to unify messaging across the university. However, with colleges and departments having specific disciplines and different audiences, this poses a challenge. 

The Lead Agency will be charged with developing creative strategies that can unite messaging, thereby strengthening the Texas A&M brand presence.

Services will include, but are not limited to: Development of Campaign Theme and Strategy

o use findings from previous discovery sessions and opinion surveys (discovery period time must be concentrated);

o identify target audiences, including personas, messaging platforms and media strategy for reaching audiences;

o develop institutional message and customized messaging for colleges, departments, and administrative units; o ensure that established university brand guidelines are followed;

o write and design ads for annual media buy, including print, digital, OOH, etc. (working with existing university vendor);

o create campaign style guide for in-house guidance. Production of :30-sec National Public Service Announcement (PSA) o since files will be due to networks in early August, this deliverable takes priority;

o first airing of PSA can serve as campaign launch. Creation of Campaign Landing Page

o design campaign landing page, microsite, or recommended mechanism for tracking campaign effectiveness (working with existing university vendors);

o develop plan for maintaining fresh content on site.

1.5 Schedule of Events 

The review and approval of RFPs is a multi-step process which requires variable amounts of time.

Respondents are advised that the dates listed in the “Tentative Timetable” may require extension

1.6 Service 

Service is a core value of Texas A&M University and taken seriously in all matters of business. Positive customer service and a good working relationship between the Lead Agency and Texas A&M are vital. Texas A&M will evaluate respondents in areas of customer service throughout the agreement. Texas A&M will appoint a project manager for this service and provide the agency with a coordinated point of contact. The proposal shall indicate level(s) of service structure and include information concerning company capabilities. Proposal shall also indicate point of contact for the project.

1.7 Vendor Qualifications Respondents must demonstrate that they possess the following qualifications:

• Expertise with education accounts and various audience demographics

• Access to exceptional creative resources

• Strong and productive working relationships between agency and higher education

• Can provide the necessary services as indicated

• Have provided service of similar size and scope of this proposal within the last three years

• Provide marketing and public relations direction – Assure greatest potential audience is reached – Provide design work

Due Date:

2:00pm Central Standard Time on May 25, 2020

Address:

Texas A&M University Department of Procurement Services P. O. Box 30013 College Station, TX 77842-3013

Agencies worth considering for this include Shadow PR and W20 Group.