Toward the start of the fall 2019 semester, Ball State began taking down its centennial celebration banners on campus.
These banners, meant to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Ball State, were part of the university’s marketing campaign which also included several on-campus, statewide and nationwide events.
Ball State officially marked the conclusion of the centennial celebrations with an event held June 14 in the Quad and the unveiling of the Beneficence mural which now rests in the Art and Journalism Building
Kathy Wolf, vice president of marketing and communications, worked on the president’s centennial committee, a team in charge of planning the centennial celebration. The team represented different departments, divisions and stakeholder groups across the university.
“We wanted it to absolutely be a university-wide plan,” Wolf said.
The campus-wide centennial celebrations, which began June 2018, included several events for the Ball State community with free food and merchandise, and media-related content like a Ball State documentary which released September 2018.
In an email response, Wolf said Ball State’s marketing team plans more than 160 events over the course of the academic year. The university spent about $100,000 on major events this past academic year, she said, along with one-time $10,000 stipends allotted to each college for their respective centennial events.
Wolf said the team emphasized its efforts to leverage existing events along with centennial events.
She said the marketing team used year-long tactics ranging from displaying banners at the Indianapolis International Airport and on campus structures to hosting luncheons, concerts, dinners and speaker events.
Other projects included a history book, timeline and exhibit for the Alumni Center and weekly profiles in the Indianapolis Business Journal about distinguished alumni, she said.
The theme of the campaign - “Proud Past, Bright Future” - was to honor the history and legacy of the university and its founders the Ball brothers, she said.
In coordination with the nonprofit organization United Way, Ball State organized roadshows in eight Indiana cities including Muncie, and traveled 1,500 miles celebrating with approximately 3,000 people. At each stop in these cities, they worked on a community-service project with the goal of supplying local families with early literacy support, according to Ball State’s website.
Jordan Walda, a 2018 social work alumni, participated in one of Ball State’s regular marketing events in Gas City, Indiana, last summer.
Apart from the free food and marketing material, Walda said Ball State had materials set up for community members to donate school supplies for youth literacy. She said she was pleasantly surprised to see the school represented in Grant County.
“One of my favorite things about Ball State is they’re always growing, and they’re always changing,” Walda said. “The reason it’s lasted 100 years, and the reason it’ll definitely last 100 years more, is because it grows with its people and with its students.”
Russell Wahlers, chair and associate professor in the Department of Marketing, said the centennial campaign helped support brand recognition for the university.
“We have so many unique things that differentiate us from other big schools,” Wahlers said. “We need to get that message out.”
Brand recognition is crucial to reaching targeted audiences, he said, adding that as a university, one of Ball State’s goals is to be one of the top universities counselors, parents and high school students advocate for.
Despite the centennial celebration’s vast programming, Baileigh Clements, senior marketing major, said she didn’t know much about the centennial campaign until after it was over. She said it wasn’t discussed in her classes, and she didn’t hear much about it on campus.
“I think for a lot of students it was confusing,” Clements said. “There was nothing one day and the next day there were a bunch of banners everywhere.”
Clements suggested involving more students in the next campus-wide celebration. Obtaining students’ advice on advertising or branding techniques about their school could involve marketing students, she said.
Now that the centennial celebration is over, Wolf said, the university’s marketing team will be re-focusing on the “We Fly” campaign over this year and years to come.