Selling the Griz

| August 31, 2006

The lights dim, the curtain goes up and the video starts rolling.

An upbeat melodic piano riff begins playing as scenes from the UM School of Business appear on the screen: students working at banks of computers, time-lapse images of people cruising through a sunlit atrium, green and blue computer code projected across the faces of an ethnically diverse group of students. Then the high-hat kicks in as the momentum and the melody builds.

“I came from the University of Oxford in England to the University of Montana, another world-class institution,” says the British-accented voice of IT professor David Firth as he appears on the screen, fades away, and then fades back into the picture in the next scene. “I’m as inspired by students as they are by me…”

The 60-second commercial, shot on high-definition 35mm film, was one of three unveiled at University of Montana President George Dennison’s “State of the University” address Aug. 25.

According to UM Vice President Jim Foley, the man in charge of the new marketing campaign, the university plans to roll out a total of nine state-of-the-art television ads in the coming year as part of an aggressive new marketing strategy. The first two 60-second spots will begin airing on TV stations across Montana this weekend, and 30-second versions are slated for later in the year.

“Marketing and branding of major institutions isn’t new, it’s just new in Montana,” says Foley, who says the university will study the efficacy of the ads on enrollment throughout the year.

Yarrow Kraner, owner of Chisel Industries, the Bozeman-based company filming the ads, was scheduled to hold a casting call at Liquid Planet on Wednesday for die-hard Griz sports fans interested in appearing in the next ad, which will spotlight Griz athletics. Shooting on that ad will take place Sept. 5-6.

“We want everything from real Griz fanatics to young kids to grandmothers,” Yarrow says.

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