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The Experience

LSU – The Experience

About the Campaign
For more information on "LSU The Experience / Love Purple/Live Gold" campaign, along with all stories showcasing the accomplishments our university, visit www.lsu.edu.

It has been two years since LSU embarked on its “Love Purple Live Gold” image/undergraduate recruiting campaign and it is has, by all accounts, been one of the most successful and recognizable campaigns in university history. This fall, just in time for football season, the LSU Office of Communications & University Relations (University Relations) is taking Love Purple Live Gold to the next level with “LSU – The Experience.”

Every college football season, universities with televised games are afforded free 30-second TV spots from the networks to promote academics, research, and student life, which usually are broadcast around halftime. As one may imagine, with all that LSU has to offer, 30 seconds is not an abundance of time to tell its story.

In addition to time constraints, one of the main issues universities encounter every year is how to set themselves apart from others that have the same 30-second window with which to work. This year, once again, LSU’s purple and gold school colors and their tradition seemed like the perfect way to differentiate itself from all others.

University Relations chose to do a spin on the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) rating system designation of “Rated PG,” with P and G representing purple and gold. Working in consultation with the MPAA, LSU was able to create its own P and G rating for the university to use in the campaign; “This university has been rated purple and gold. Warning: May contain groundbreaking research, unique cultural experiences, and the most spirited student body in the world.”

“The “P and G” designation was the perfect fit,” said Emaan Abdelbaki, director of marketing at University Relations. “So, we took it a step further and asked, ‘What if LSU was shown as a critically acclaimed institution with our own students as the critics?’”

At that point, the stage was set for this year’s 30-second spot and accompany

ing undergraduate recruiting campaign materials. University Relations chose to let LSU students tell the story.

The “History” of LSU's

Purple and Gold

There is some discrepancy in the origin of Royal Purple and Old Gold as LSU's official colors. Below is the most widely accepted scenario:

It is believed that the colors were worn for the first time by an LSU team in the spring of 1893 when the LSU baseball squad beat Tulane in the first intercollegiate contest played in any sport by Louisiana State University. Team captain E.B. Young reportedly handpicked those colors for the LSU squad.

Later that year, the first football game was played. On Nov. 25, 1893, football coach/chemistry professor Charles Coates and some of his players went into town to purchase ribbon to adorn their gray jerseys as they prepared to play the first LSU gridiron game.

Stores were stocking ribbons in the colors of Mardi Gras -- purple, gold and green. -- for the coming Carnival season. However, none of the green had yet arrived at Reymond's Store at the corner of Third and Main streets. Coates and quarterback Ruffin Pleasant bought up all of the purple and gold stock and made it into rosettes and badges.

“A phenomenal choice,” said Meredith, a music and English literature major from Austin.

“An outstanding education,” said Jesse, a mass communication senior from Baton Rouge.

“New and different,” said Brandon, a chemical engineering junior from Orlando.

“It turned out to be a natural extension of the Love Purple Live Gold campaign,” said Abdelbaki. “Our writers are constantly interviewing students who have such high praise for LSU. Their comments were used as movie critic-type blurbs and ‘LSU – The Experience’ was created.”

The 30 second “LSU – The Experience” TV spot includes some of the aforementioned student quotes, paired with stunning High Dynamic Range, or HDR, photography from various campus locations and even the quintessential “Movie Guy” voiceover narration.

In addition to the 30 second spot, additional student testimonials like the ones above are being used in 2012 undergraduate recruiting materials, such as postcards, brochures, posters, t-shirts, and event invitations.

“It really takes the Love Purple Live Gold campaign to the next level,” said Abdelbaki. “LSU has attributes that no other university in America can claim thanks to our culture, proximity to the coast and the Mississippi River, and vast array of undergraduate research opportunities, just to name a few. Our students know this and they are our own best spokespeople to get the peer-to-peer message out to prospective students.”

Herb Vincent, LSU associate vice chancellor for communications and senior associate athletic director, expressed similar excitement over the direction of the 2012 campaign.

“This campaign was a complete team effort, especially with input from the students," said Vincent. “As administrators, we can promote LSU all we want, but these statements, coming from current and former students, say more in two or three words than we could say in 1000.”

Vincent went on to comment about the importance of setting LSU apart from its university peers, especially with the success of the LSU football program and its subsequent viewership being at an all-time high.

“A challenge every university has is differentiation," said Vincent. “Sure, we get 30 seconds that run during football telecasts, but it’s what we make with that brief time that sets us apart from our peers and makes LSU stand out to a nationwide audience. With this campaign, I think we’ll definitely stand out in a very big way!"

To see the debut of the “LSU – The Experience” TV spot and cheer on the LSU Tigers as they take on North Texas on Saturday, Sept. 1, at 6 p.m. CDT, tune into ESPNU.

The game can also be heard on the LSU Radio Network.

For more information on the “Love Purple/Live Gold” campaign, along with all other campus stories and interactive features, visit www.lsu.edu/lovepurple.  

The Beginning

By Todd Miller
September 2010


For decades, the LSU school colors of purple and gold have represented the passion and excellence of Louisiana's flagship university.

With this in mind, LSU set out to develop an undergraduate recruiting campaign embracing those iconic colors to leverage its established athletic brand awareness and generate exposure for the university's academic excellence.

For more information on the "Love Purple/Live Gold" campaign, along with all stories that rise to LSU's Gold Standard, visit www.lsu.edu/gold.

After more than a year of research and development, the result is "Love Purple/Live Gold," one of the most ambitious undergraduate recruiting efforts in university history. Tricia Milford-Hoyt, director of marketing for the LSU Office of Communications & University Relations, has learned through years of research that excellence in one area can be used to promote excellence in all.

"A widely accepted tenet in higher education is that a recognizable and successful athletic program can serve as the 'front porch' to expand awareness of a university," said Milford-Hoyt. "This means that if an athletic program is well-known and popular, it invites high school students and the general public at large to take a closer look at everything else the university has to offer."

Upon surveying both in- and out-of-state high school students over the course of 2009 and 2010, results showed that the three words both groups associated most with LSU were "big," "spirited" and "athletic." Survey results also indicated that both groups of students had neither a negative nor positive impression of LSU academics, but simply had little overall knowledge of the subject. This presented an excellent opportunity to educate students, their parents and the general public on the benefits of an LSU education while embracing established notions.

"They just didn't know," said Milford-Hoyt. "So, to use a sports metaphor, LSU was neither playing from ahead nor behind on building our academic brand equity. But, on the plus side, our positive athletic brand equity certainly gave us home field advantage."

Based upon the initial survey results, preliminary campaign concepts were developed and tested with student and parent focus groups throughout Louisiana, as well as major out-of-state recruiting markets. A task force comprised of LSU faculty and staff members from across campus also provided campaign input, as did a group of LSU alumni, many of whom were marketing and advertising professionals.

The resulting "Love Purple/Live Gold" campaign debuted in New Orleans and North Louisiana publications in early August. The full campaign rolls out nationally during the LSU vs. North Carolina football game, integrating print, web, direct mail, television, radio, social media and outdoor advertising.

The idea is that "Purple" signifies the collective school spirit common to all students, alumni, faculty and staff, including the culture and unique traditions of Louisiana. The "Gold" represents LSU's unyielding dedication to greatness and prestige at all levels … through academics, athletics, community service and otherwise.

Together, "Love Purple/Live Gold" presents LSU as the ultimate student experience, transforming their lives by offering excellence at every level.

Herb Vincent, LSU associate vice chancellor for communications and senior associate athletic director, expressed how pleased he was at how the entire university came together to create "Love Purple/Live Gold," calling it a "completely collaborative effort."

"In all of my years at LSU, the process of developing this campaign has been one of the most fascinating to witness," said Vincent. "From the student focus groups, to the task force, to the community experts who lent their talents, to the administrative support, to the staff who implemented the campaign, it's been a true team effort."