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Higher Standard FAQ

On April 2, 2012, the University of San Francisco launched the Higher Standard Campaign, its first-ever visibility advertising campaign focused on increasing the recognition of the university’s distinctiveness in the city of San Francisco.

What is this campaign?

  • The Higher Standard Campaign consists of a series of short, provocative headlines that emphasize USF’s commitment to academic excellence, a culture of service, and a passion for social justice, as well as its deep ties to the city of San Francisco.
  • Visibility advertising campaigns are a recent development in higher education but are becoming increasingly popular. We know of campaigns being planned by a significant number of other members of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, as well as by our competitors in the Bay Area.

Why is it called the Higher Standard Campaign?

  • The name for this visibility campaign is Higher Standard, a reference to USF’s distinct brand of education that joins critical thought with purposed action to develop ethical leaders who are sought after in their professions. A Higher Standard is one of USF’s three differentiating attributes. The other two are The San Francisco Advantage and Passion for Justice.

Who is the target audience?

  • The primary target audience is San Francisco’s opinion leaders, including executives and managers in the business, civic, and nonprofit sectors whose ideas and behavior serve as a model to others. The campaign will be concentrated downtown to attract their attention.

What is the objective?

  • The goal of the Higher Standard Campaign is to build awareness of USF and increase recognition and appreciation among influential San Franciscans. As this recognition and appreciation grows, the target audience may be more likely to pay closer attention to other university communications, including positive news stories and individual school/department advertisements requesting a specific action that will drive other measurable goals.

Why is USF doing this?

  • This visibility campaign is the result of research in 2007 and again in 2011 that confirmed that USF is not visible among key audiences in our own city. Since there are so many benefits to a close relationship with our unique city, this lack of visibility was seen as an issue that needed to be addressed.
  • The Higher Standard Campaign directly addresses the first of USF’s seven strategic priorities: Communicate USF’s distinctiveness among colleges and universities. This was selected as a strategic priority through a long, deliberative process, including campus-wide consultations in the 2011-12 academic year.

Where and when will the ads appear?

  • These ads will appear on the sides of buses, news racks, taxi tops, and transit shelters, as well as on billboards and wallscapes. Additional placements will be seen in the print and online editions of the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Business Times. All ads will include the university’s full name, logo, and tagline: Change the World from Here.
  • The downtown location and media for the campaign were selected based on an analysis of the media habits of the primary target audience for the campaign.
  • The 2013 campaign will run in two phases, same as 2012. 
    • Phase One: April and May
    • Phase Two: September and October
  • In 2013 we expanded the campaign into areas with high concentrations of potential students, alumni, and branch campus locations including San Jose, Sacramento, San Jose, and Pleasanton.

Who is leading this process?

  • The Office of Communications and Marketing is leading the creation and implementation of the Higher Standard Campaign. Through an extensive RFP process that included 14 agencies, Hub Strategy, a boutique advertising agency in San Francisco’s Presidio, was selected as the creative voice for the campaign. Hub Strategy has been recognized with many awards for its cutting-edge ad campaigns for such clients as Levi’s, the Oakland Athletics, and Chevys Fresh Mex Restaurants.

How will the campaign’s effectiveness be measured?

  • The university has contracted with an outside research firm to conduct quantitative testing before and after the campaign to measure the change in awareness and recognition.
  • The pre-test and post-test research described above is recognized as the most reliable method of measuring the impact of visibility advertising.
  • An awareness campaign has many potential benefits, including: 
    • Increasing USF’s visibility and recognition
    • Providing fundraisers greater access to potential donors
    • Generating more interest among potential students, faculty, staff, and volunteers
    • Attracting influential community leaders to serve on our advisory boards and to partner with us
    • Improving morale within the USF community.