Skip to main content
A PFW billboard in Fort Wayne

PFW launches billboard campaign in major markets

By Blake Sebring

October 24, 2023

A new Purdue University Fort Wayne billboard campaign highlights students pushing through to better futures.

Recently launched in Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and South Bend high-traffic areas, the billboards present images of students and phrases such as “It all starts with education,” “Go full STEM ahead,” “Make things that matter,” and “Your next great discovery.”

“These billboards are part of our strategy to continue to create more awareness and enhance the university’s reputation in all of those markets,” said David Johnson, chief marketing officer and associate vice chancellor for communications and marketing. “We wanted to present the university in a more creative, innovative, and contemporary way that says to prospective students, `You could be part of this life.’ It just adds more layers and context to help tell the story of who we are as a university.

“The whole concept is we wanted to make the billboards thought-provoking with double or even triple meanings,” Johnson added. “So, if a student is interested in business or engineering, it means something to them, because it would be in the language they use. If they aren’t in those fields, it would still make sense and resonate with them, too.”

Johnson called the campaign a bi-level approach that connects the futures of both prospective students and the university.

“During the past few years, we have concentrated heavily on digital advertising, traditional advertising, the university’s website, earned media, social media, and direct marketing—rotating billboards in and out of the mix,” says Jerry Lewis, vice chancellor for communications and marketing. “The goal is to reach prospective students and families in meaningful ways—and where they are—as we continue to bolster Purdue Fort Wayne’s reputation and visibility among our most important target audiences. As an institution, we need to continue to connect the dots between prospective students, our academic programs, the student experience, and outcomes in terms of career opportunities.”

The messages and student images make an assertive and bold statement that raises PFW’s visibility, not only among prospective students and their families but also among current students, alumni, employers, and the broader community.

“These billboards convey our confidence and pride in Purdue Fort Wayne,” Johnson said. “This campaign is just one of the ways we’re working to enhance the reputation and the overall perception of the university. What better way to do this than through current students who are having a great academic experience.”

The students were selected to represent the various backgrounds, colleges, and degree programs. More images and messages could be displayed in high schools, high-traffic retail areas, on the university’s website, and on campus. Video was also shot during the photography sessions with students and will be used in the future on related projects and several communication channels.

The goal, Johnson said, is for viewers to think the billboards are everywhere, and more locations throughout the city are coming.

Johnson said the initial campaign was launched in Indianapolis in April and then was further enhanced and expanded to Fort Wayne and South Bend in September. Additional runs will be scheduled throughout the year. There are also considerations in place to push into the Chicago area and possibly other cities in the Midwest.