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“Like something out of Mad Men”: UoA spends £178,000 on new branding

Students Express Confusion Over “Boundary Breakers” Slogan and CGI Northern Lights

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

Photo by University of Aberdeen

A recent rebrand by the University of Aberdeen cost more than £178,000, The Gaudie can reveal.

The new brand was launched in July- after years of development with several commercial partners.

Purple, blue, and green-tinted adverts have appeared across the North East, including at Aberdeen FC games and airport check-in counters.

A promotional video featured students studying in the Divinity library, playing football at ASV, surfing in the North Sea, and walking around Castlegate.

Aberdeen’s northerly location was also highlighted throughout the video, as a CGI version of the Northern Lights shimmer above King’s College.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by The Gaudie has revealed the price tag of the project, which the University says was funded out of the Marketing and Brand budget (at no additional cost).

To pay for the new branding, typical marketing spends were slashed.

£50,000 was spent on brand research, with an additional £128,000 spent on development, guidelines, and visual elements- a total of almost £179,000.

It is unclear if the University’s spend on physical and social media advertising was increased to pair with the launch of the brand.

Some students have expressed confusion over the new branding, especially the slogan “Go Beyond Boundaries.”

Amelia, a first year student, told us: “In this day and age, boundaries are talked about more, especially in places like work, or relationships, and they are usually set due to a necessity and to keep someone safe and happy. Having them be something to “go beyond” or essentially “break” doesn’t exactly bring any sort of positive ideas or connotations to my mind…”

Other students commented that the messaging felt “off” and “bizarre”- with one student comparing the slogan to “something that would be in an episode of Mad Men.”

Another student, who had mixed feelings on the design, added: "It just kinda annoys me that they have these strangely edited photos of the northern lights somewhere they never appear."

However, University senior managers have praised the rebrand.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Director of Advancement Liza Boffen-Yardanov shared her appreciation for the team behind the rebrand.

She said: “Incredibly excited to launch our new brand video at the University of Aberdeen! I hope you get goosebumps like I do every time I watch it. Congratulations Fiona Morrison [UoA Head of Marketing]! You had a vision and made it happen."

While the University declined to provide the names of the companies who contributed to the reband, The Gaudie can confirm that student advertising gurus Net Natives and film studio The Progress Film Company took the lead in developing the project.

Both companies are based out of Brighton- 550 miles south of Aberdeen.

Despite a mixed reaction from students, it appears that more adverts are in the works- Charlie Penrose, Net Natives’ Creative Director, recently visited Aberdeen with a film crew.

In August, he posted on LinkedIn: “Just back from a week of filming some of the many awesome things that University of Aberdeen and their research touches in the city and further afield.”


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