'The Victors for Michigan' chosen as development campaign branding

By Sam Gringlas, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 26, 2013

When the Michigan Difference capital campaign concluded in 2008, it was hailed as the most fruitful fundraising effort in University history.

Five years later, senior University officials are preparing their vast networks of donors, alumni and brand power in the hopes of replicating and surpassing the previous success.

Though primed by a serious of record-breaking donations over the past year — including gifts from Stephen Ross, Charles Munger, Helen Zell, Penny Stamps and Jean and Samuel Frankel totaling over $400 million — the University hadn’t yet distinguished the campaign with a name.

Thursday, the University officially introduced “The Victors for Michigan” as the campaign’s title, just over a month before its official launch on Nov. 8.

In addition, the University announced details for the campaign’s kickoff, including an outdoor celebration on Ingalls Mall and a primetime reveal at Hill Auditorium hosted by University President Mary Sue Coleman and campaign chair Stephen Ross.

The University is asking students, faculty and community members to join donors and campaign volunteers at both events. In the evening, students will share “why Michigan needs victors.”

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the campaign branding ties to the University’s “The Victors” video that was released earlier this month. Many of the themes stemmed from the University’s extensive branding research that lead to the release of a new branding focus last year.

In a May interview, Tom Baird, assistant vice president of development campaign strategy, said Lisa Rudgers, vice president for global communications, would likely play a role in naming the campaign, as well as adding a greater emphasis on social media.

“The Victors for Michigan” campaign will focus on three overarching priorities. In the release, financial support was listed as the highest priority and has been repeatedly emphasized by top-level officials over the past year, including Coleman.

In a February interview with The Michigan Daily, Coleman said the campaign’s strategy would call on students to share the impact giving has had on their University experience, especially as the University intends to ramp up donations earmarked for financial aid.

“We need to fashion this in a way donors can get excited about the difference they can make in people’s lives, so a lot of this will be storytelling about what students have done and what the impact of having various scholarships has been,” Coleman said.

Whereas the Michigan Difference placed a significant emphasis on capital projects like new and expanded facilities, the next campaign intends to leverage fundraising dollars for extending classroom experiences with real-world immersion.

In April, University Provost Martha Pollack said the campaign would also focus on securing funding for “public-good” projects centered around four areas: human and environmental health, poverty and inequality, sustainable transportation and K-12 education.

Correction appended: The headline of a previous version of this story misstated the name of the campaign.