Names like lions, tigers, owls and eagles may bring to mind a visit to the zoo. On the flipside names such as the Gators, Wildcats, Longhorns and Wolverines connect with a university—colors, mascot and all.

When branding and marketing, state and local government agencies have put a lot of resources into their higher education institutions, according to data from Onvia’s Project Center data and other research.

“Many universities have hired marketing professionals from the corporate world, including CMOs [chief marketing officers], and have invested significant time and money to create strong institutional brands,” Hannover Research, a global information services firm, wrote in a 2014 report.

Marketing and Advertising for Higher Education Institutions

Onvia’s data has similar findings. In recent years, the majority of solicitations and awards in the marketing and advertising industry have been geared toward “higher education.” Last year, state and local government agencies released 4,691 bids & RFPs for marketing and advertising services overall, 611 of those in support of higher education, or 13%. Of the 478 awards made for higher education in 2014, 46% were for marketing, 37% were for advertising and 10% for public relations. The smallest portion—7%—were for graphic design services.

Issued a bid in September of 2014 for bus board professional advertising services on Ithaca and Binghamton transit busses. The university awarded the contract worth $39,000 to Rosseanne Sall Advertising, Inc. in December of 2014.

In the first five months of 2015, state agencies have released 265 solicitations for marketing, advertising, public relations and graphic design services related to “higher education” and awarded 172 contracts.

Awarded a contract values at $150,000 in May of 2015 to Jascula Terman Strategic Communications to provide media and communications consulting services for the university. The contract has the option for 2-three year-renewals.

Top 5 States Issuing Marketing & Advertising Solicitations for Higher Education

Top 5 States Issuing Marketing & Advertising Solicitations for Higher Education


Marketing and Advertising for Transit, Aviation and Port Agencies

Beyond education, public officials want support in marketing their public mass transit systems. From January to May of this year, state and local government transportation agencies have issued 71 solicitations and awarded 35 contracts.

Awarded Partnership of Atlanta a $49,000 contract in February 2015 to get MARTA more attention. The transit authority wants to counteract the decline in its number of riders, which is due to its chief rival—the car. The ad campaign will focus on MARTA’s security, fares and safety record.

In 2014, 37% of 483 transportation-related bids and RFPs went for public mass transit systems and 19% were related to airports.

Released an RFP in June 2014 to develop and implement a marketing campaign that stresses the benefits of flying locally from the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport in Oklahoma.

When analyzing 2014 contract awards, transportation agencies made 28% awards for mass transit systems and 20% for sea and inland port facilities. Airports came in third with 17% of the awards.

The State of Washington agency issued an RFP in December 2014 so it can collaborate with one or more advertising agencies on marketing solutions for the Waterfront Place Central development and the Port’s marina.

Among 2014’s transportation-related contract awards, 27% ranged between $25,000 and $100,000 in contract value, 25% were 100 to 500K and 23% were lower than 25K. 24% of awarded contracts were greater that 500K in value.

Promoting Local Natural Resources

State agencies also want to tout their natural resources—from sweet strawberries to sea turtles—and spread the news about issues that may impact their citizens.

Issued an RFP in April 2015 to launch the “Buy Local, It Matters” call-to-action campaign. The department wants quantifiable metrics to conduct an effective television media campaign that flaunts its home-grown and Hawaiian-made agricultural products in order to become more self-sufficient and increase the state’s food security.
Issued an RFP in March 2015 for a public education campaign focusing on air quality issues facing the state. Work would include public awareness campaigns, advertisements, creating various materials, negotiating media buys and designing graphic art.

Takeaways for Marketing and Advertising Firms Selling into State and Local Governments

State agencies have many resources from locally grown foods to nationally recognized universities and they are actively publishing opportunities to help in marketing and advertising these resources.

Because it’s good for boosting their local economies, state and local officials want to share the good news. They are looking for support in getting the word out about state programs, services and resources in creative ways as they develop campaigns and also measure results from it. They want to use the traditional mediums, such as TV and radio. They even recognize the need to enter the social media world.