UCI Paul Merage School of Business, MBA Seeks Marketing Agency

UCI Paul Merage School of Business, MBA Seeks Marketing Agency

The Regents of the University of California has issued an RFP seeking Marketing Services for UCI Paul Merage School of Business, MBA Programs. Founded as the state’s first and only land grant institution in 1868, the University of California is a system of 10 campuses with approximately 180,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The official research arm of the State of California, the University has five medical schools, four law schools and the nation’s largest continuing education program. It also manages three national laboratories that are engaged in energy and environmental research and approximately 130,000 acres of natural habitat in California for research, teaching and outreach activities. The University’s fundamental mission is teaching, research and public service.

University of California, Irvine

Nestled among the coastal hills in Orange County, the University of California Irvine (UCI) is a globally preeminent research university and is a driving force for innovation and discovery. Consistently ranked among the nation’s best universities, UCI excels in a broad range of fields, garnering national recognition for its schools, departments and programs. Three UCI researchers have won Nobel Prizes and three UCI graduates have won Pulitzer Prizes.UCI is home to 31,000 students and is the second-largest employer in Orange County, employing 23,000 faculty and staff. UCI’s annual economic impact on Orange County exceeds $4.3 billion.

Project Overview

The Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine offers seven masters degree programs, a PhD program and an undergraduate business program. Of the seven masters program, our four MBA programs represent our primary graduate offerings: the full time MBA program, which competes domestically and internationally for candidates, and our three part-time MBA programs, the Fully Employed, Executive and Health Care Executive MBA programs (known internally as Programs for Working Professionals or “PWP”), which compete primarily in the Southern California region.

The school has determined that our current competitive position of a general high-quality MBA is no longer viable for our PWP Programs in our regional market, which features highly ranked local competitors, as well as ranked national competitors entering our geographic market through hybrid (partially online) and fully online programs. For the full time MBA program, the challenge is more related to a shrinking domestic market and aggressive scholarship offers from competitors across the nation (Johns Hopkins 85%; ASU 100%). In response to these challenges, we believe that it is imperative to move forward with a differentiated strategy, one where applicants select the Merage School because of a distinctive strategic focus, and one that is not easily imitated.

The Merage School has identified the concept of “Leadership for a Digitally Driven World” as the basis for our differentiated focus. We believe that the context in which business operates is increasingly transformed – often disrupted – by the advances in the applications of digital technologies. No business nor industry is left untouched by the digital revolution.  We think this is an incredibly exciting time and one that the Merage School is well poised to leverage to greater recognition and success. From our IT traditions of the past century to our concentration on innovation in the past decade, we have the faculty, staff, relationships and expertise to be successful in incorporating this brand initiative throughout the Merage School, instilling it in the DNA of the School going forward.

The Merage School is also at a crossroads in its own growth and resource requirements. The School relies on an internal Marketing & Communications Services team of four (director, designer, project manager and webmaster) plus an SEM agency, and freelance designers and writers to provide advertising, collateral, website and social media services to at least two dozen major entities including degree programs, Centers of Excellence, and External Relations groups in addition to the overall brand management for the Merage School.

At this critical time, we are also near completion of an initiative to move our entire website (merage.uci.edu) to a mobile-first platform on UCI servers. We have been assisted in this initiative by a very capable agency that has helped us to not just move the site, but to completely reorganize and redesign it. Our new website is expected to go live before May 1. Updates to our website are an ongoing effort, and we recognize the need for website content to always evolve, especially with the new brand differentiation directive.

With oversight and execution responsibilities for all of the above, our marketing team is now stretched far beyond its limits. It is time to explore the option of moving our MBA programs marketing support to an outside agency. Our expectation is that we would receive a fresh perspective and creative ideas that can drive our recruitment efforts for all four MBA programs, and could be leveraged across the School and other degree programs.


Important: Unfinished New Tagline and Marketing Campaign

As referenced in the Project Overview, we have made the decision to move ahead with one of the following new taglines for the entire Merage School:

  • Leadership for a Digitally Driven World
  • Inspiring Leaders for a Digitally Driven World
  • Defining Leadership for a Digitally Driven World
  • Reinventing Leadership for a Digitally Driven World

This decision was based on some initial creative work and subsequent research with our primary target audience (MBA student prospects aged 25 to 35). The results of a quick online survey with that audience about these four taglines is attached (both the standard Qualtrics report plus the raw data).

Additionally, we have made the decision to adopt a new marketing campaign: “Dare to Define.” While the tagline clearly signals our primary deliverable, we want to use the marketing campaign to build excitement and emotion around the brand to attract the best and brightest to the Merage School, including students, businesspeople from the community, and donors. This campaign was chosen because of its flexibility for extensions to all areas of the School, e.g.:

  • Dare to Define…your Place in the Digitally Driven World
  • Dare to Define…your Impact on the Future
  • Dare to Define…your Custom Commute (for online programs)
  • Dare to Define…your Legacy (for donors)

To date, we have not chosen/begun to use the final tagline nor have we fleshed out the Dare to Define campaign, either graphically or its verbiage.

Initial Scope of Services

  • For all four MBA Programs:
    • Ongoing strategic marketing planning and creative consultation
    • Content Creation (Design, copywriting, video production/editing)
    • Metrics and Monitoring

MBA Marketing Needs

We currently have four MBA programs:

  • Full time MBA (FTMBA): 2-year program; ranked No. 44 in U.S. News & World Report ranking. The audience is typically around 50% domestic students, 50% international students, with India and China being key markets. Under FTMBA are two dual degree programs: JD/MBA, MD/MBA.
  • Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA): a part-time program with heavy competition from nationally and regionally ranked competitors: USC, UCLA, and lower cost alternatives/online programs: Chapman, Cal State schools.

This program offers three options:

  • Fall On-campus: two evenings/week, 2-3 year program with summers off,
  • Accelerated FEMBA/Spring Start On-campus: two evenings/week, 27-month program includes summer classes,
  • Hybrid FEMBA: 2-3-year program, 60% of program curriculum taught online; 40% is delivered on-campus though four immersive experiences per quarter.
  • Executive  MBA  (EMBA):  For  experienced  professionals  with  an  average  of  15 years’ experience, part-time, every other Friday/Saturday, 21-month program including summer.
  • HealthCare Executive MBA (HCEMBA): Executive level program exclusively for health care professionals, part-time, one weekend per month, 21 month program including summer

For these programs, please include the following in the proposal:

  1. Design & Content Creation for Digital Mediums – top priority; largest portion of the project
    • Designing and writing HTML emails (for Pardot Mktg Automation system, UCI email system, outside vendors: UCSB, Poets & Quants, etc.) [Multiple per program]
    • Design & copywriting for landing and thank you pages [Multiple per program]
    • Design and copywriting for digital display ads for Google Display, Programmatic Platforms, Poets & Quants, Clear Admit, etc.  [Common ad sizes; gif and static ads]
    • Copywriting ads for Search Engine Marketing on Google and Bing. Management of SEM campaigns on these platforms.
    • Social Media ad copywriting and placement on LinkedIn and Facebook.
    • New web content for the degree program to match the collateral and new brand – text, images, videos
  1. Design & Content Creation for Print
    • Program brochures (FEMBA/Hybrid FEMBA/EMBA/HCEMBA in one brochure; FTMBA separate brochure)
    • Profile sheets (1 per program)
    • Guide to Career Services brochure (3 versions:  FTMBA, FEMBA, HC/EMBA)
    • Welcome Box & Insert for new admits (FTMBA)
    • Print ads:  Orange County Business Journal; Physicians News; other TBD
    • Course Covers (4)
    • Program Handbook Covers (4 versions)
    • MBA Certificate Information One Sheets (3 options)
  1. Monitoring, Optimizing and Reporting
  2. Design for Electronic Distribution

Regents of the University of California
1995 University Ave,
Berkeley, CA 94704

PR firms who may compete for this assignment include MSL Group or Ogilvy PR.

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