The University of Wyoming’s “The World Needs More Cowboys” marketing campaign has been winning high praise in different advertisement award circles recently, including the Higher Education Marketing Report and the American Advertising Federation.

Chad Baldwin, UW’s director of institutional communications, said while the recognition from advertising professionals is gratifying, one of the main tests to the campaign’s success is the enrollment numbers in the fall.

The campaign’s video ad recently won best single-spot television ad among all last year’s national higher education advertising at the HEMR’s annual Educational Advertising Awards. The winning 30-second video was a portion of UW’s main “anthem video,” featuring the primary slogan “The World Needs More Cowboys” and highlighting different cowboy traits, like tenacity and “restless curiosity.”

Outside of the higher education bubble, the campaign is also gaining recognition within professional advertising circles. It recently won an “ADDY,” more formally known as an American Advertising Award, from the American Advertising Federation. The awards are split into three categories: local, regional and national.

“Ours got entered in the [regional] chapter based in Colorado Springs, and our video was named best of show among all entries in that competition,” Baldwin said. “Our overall campaign got a gold ADDY as well, so both of those automatically advance to the second level of the competition.”

Although Baldwin said it’s gratifying “to see some external validation” from professionals in the marketing and advertising fields, UW is still in the “early stages” of measuring how the campaign is affecting their goals, including increasing enrollment, private fundraising and merchandising as well as raising UW’s national and international profile.

“There was a paid media piece to this campaign, and it’s generated in the neighborhood of 18,000 student leads,” Baldwin said. “Those are people who have clicked on our ads and given us some information about themselves; now they’re in the system for our student recruitment.”

He added it’s still unclear how many of those leads will translate into enrolled students in fall 2019.

As the campaign was implemented in early July, it had drawn some criticism from some of the public and even some UW staff about whether it was exclusive to different cultures and genders outside of the traditional cowboy. Baldwin said it’s impossible to get unanimity with any marketing campaign, and overall the response has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

“Every time we’re talking about cowboys, we’re talking about not what you are, but who you are,” Baldwin said.

Looking forward to year two of the campaign, Baldwin said UW plans to keep the primary slogan and video at the forefront as well as continuing to highlight diversity and inclusion with various cowboy traits.

“This doesn’t work without a very strong message of inclusivity, and that’s what the video has,” Baldwin said. “That’s still going to be front and center in whatever we do.”

(4) comments

Brett Glass

UW may be attempting to tout awards it has received for pretty (and pretty expensive - we're paying for it!) advertising. But the fact is that its gender-specific, exclusionary slogan is falling utterly flat with the University's prospective customers, the majority of whom are women. (Yes, more college "freshmen" are women than men nowadays, especially in Wyoming where it's possible to get high paying energy industry jobs without a college degree.) What matters is not how nice the ads look but the message they send. And the message is that "we want BOYS - and ignore the existence, needs, and desires of girls." Not the one we want to send.


Brett, we have data that show the message resonates with prospective students of all backgrounds. If you're interested in seeing it, please let me know:

Brett Glass

Oh, the message resonates, alright. It's resoundingly clear: UW is utterly insensitive to gender issues. A girl who attends UW has to be willing to be called a boy. The recent drop in enrollment demonstrates that this transparently tone-deaf slogan is backfiring.


So do you want to see the data or not? It shows that women respond to the message very positively. And UW's enrollment has grown the past two years, including the largest freshman class in history in fall 2018.

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