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Regents approve funds for branding agency's research phase

UNM is in the beginning stages of a comprehensive rebranding process after signing with branding agency 160over90, in a new effort to change how UNM is viewed nationwide.

Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Cinnamon Blair presented 160over90’s model and previous work to the Board of 
Regents last Friday, along with Vice President for Enrollment 
Management Terry Babbitt.

The agency has worked with several professional sports teams, prominent companies such as Nike and Ferrari, as well as other institutions such as Texas A&M, Oregon and UCLA — universities known on a national scale for their sports programs.

“This is a challenge similar to what UNM is facing,” Blair said. “Our research and polling data since 2003 has consistently showed that people feel that UNM is positive, they know we do good things, but they do not have the familiarity with our academic departments.”

Blair showed examples of what 160over90 came up with when they worked with Oregon and UCLA: concepts that they felt characterized each institution based on what they learned about each one.

For Oregon it was a campaign centered on “if” as a verb, and for UCLA the idea of optimism and ‘game changers’. Both campaigns highlighted an array of research areas at each institution.

Blair said whatever the agency comes up with for UNM will essentially do the same.

“This is something that we’re all going to be able to own,” she said. “Every school, college, department, program should be able to utilize the program.”

Regent James Koch said the board has already designated about half a million dollars to the research phase of 160over90’s UNM campaign.

160over90’s model of operations consists of the agency visiting campus and learning what UNM is all about, developing a branding strategy and concept and implementing it through media.

“I feel they are very well qualified to do this job,” Babbitt said. “It’s a comprehensive marketing campaign. They will bring an 
expertise, creativity, new discovery and a fresh toolbox for us to use in the different areas of 
the University.”

Regent Robert Doughty was concerned that there is currently no specific target demographic, which is an essential part of 
the partnership.

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“This is a lot of money, and I supported the concept, but I’m very concerned...if we’re going to do this right, it has to be done very right,” he said. “Are we targeting based on mindset, or are we just thinking geographic? What are 
we doing?”

Blair responded that figuring out a specific target is part of 160over90’s research on UNM when they begin to work with
the University.

She said that since 160over90 began working to recreate UCLA’s image, the school has had the most freshman applications in its 96-year history.

Board of Regents President Jack Fortner said that he hopes whatever time is spent working with 160over90 results in positive impact for the University.

“(We want to) tell the story clearly, concisely and with energy so the whole campus is in play,” Fortner said.

David Lynch is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.


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