Laurie Taylor Column

October 8, 2004

Birmingham University calls in brand image consultants Wolf Olins after an internal marketing report finds that the university is regarded as "dull and conservative". The Times Higher, October 1

Welcome to the Corporate Development Committee. Today's meeting is devoted to the marketing report on the University of Poppleton, which we specially commissioned from Image Splash plc. So let me hand over to the author of that report, Mr Z. W. Cornish.

Thank you, vice-chancellor. It's great to be here. And please call me Zak. All right?

Now, this report begins with the popular image of the environment at Poppleton. Table 1 shows that more than 85 per cent of respondents thought it was likely to be a dirty, dilapidated and uninspiring campus. Favourite phrases were "moonscape" and "central Baghdad".

Excuse me, Zak, but is this in Table 1?

It's in the Qualitative Appendix at QI. Now if we turn to Table 2, we'll see that the image held of the staff is relatively congruent. More than 92 per cent of respondents thought that Poppleton academics were likely to be elderly, disenchanted and looking around for another job. Favourite phrases were "superannuated" and "beyond their sell-by date".

We're now on to Q2?

That's right. And then in Table 3, there is the predominant image of the future of Poppleton. More than 91 per cent thought that it would be downhill, negative and reactionary. In Q3 you'll find repeated references to "Armageddon".

So, after a great deal of processual brand analysis and goal-oriented brainstorming, we have finally come up with a recommendation that we believe will lead to an immediate and long-lasting change in the image of this institution.

Let me turn to PowerPoint for this exciting part of the presentation. Up until now, this institution has been known as... (PowerPoint) THE UNIVERSITY OF POPPLETON.

What we are proposing is that from henceforth this institution should be known as... (PowerPoint) POPPLETON UNIVERSITY!

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