Spokane Journal of Business

Gonzaga University unfolds campaign to boost school’s visibility

Effort aims to capitalize Bulldogs’ hoop success

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Gonzaga University has launched a campaign that aims to introduce the university to prospective students outside of the Pacific Northwest by leveraging the visibility of its basketball programs.

The marketing promotion tipped off during the West Coast Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments earlier this month and is continuing through the NCAA tournaments.

“The concept is ‘Unfold,’ ” says Dave Sonntag, Gonzaga’s associate vice president of marketing and communications. “We think it applies to us in terms of what unfolds at Gonzaga.”

The university aired a television commercial during the WCC men’s and women’s semifinal and final games and is checking into time slots to air it during the NCAA tournament, Sonntag says.

The campaign aims to show people following the tournaments that other facets of the university are just as top-tier as what they see on the basketball court, he says.

Students come to Gonzaga with ambitious goals and dreams, he says.

“We feel this is a place that can unfold,” Sonntag says, citing the university’s Catholic Jesuit approach to education that challenges students to become the best versions of themselves and serve the greater good.

The university also has launched a new website, unfold.gonzaga.edu, as part of the campaign. The website features stories from individual Gonzaga students, highlighting the university’s global presence, academic opportunities, career outcomes, and its community in general. 

“The website tells stories of what students feel Gonzaga excels at,” Sonntag says. “We’re trying to show Gonzaga is at the highest level when people talk about the best in academics.”

Each story has a link to the featured student’s academic programs or projects.

The university also is promoting the campaign through digital advertising that aims to drive people to the website and an extended-video version of the TV commercial. Gonzaga is placing digital ads in key markets on sports and news media websites, where people are likely to be following the NCAA tournament, Sonntag says.

The campaign also will include pregame events, social media, and email distribution to prospective undergraduate and graduate students, he says.

Sonntag declines to disclose the cost of the Unfold campaign.

“We’ve tried to be efficient online and especially through social media with creative ways to get the word out without spending a fortune,” Sonntag says.

Branding and marketing efforts, such as the Unfold campaign, are critical for Gonzaga to maintain and grow its reputation of excellence and attract diverse and high-performing students, he says.

“Spokane is off the beaten path for many of these students and families,” he says. “Hopefully we will have the kind of recognition nationally that we’re getting regionally.”

Gonzaga men’s and women’s basketball teams both will play in the Sweet 16 round of their respective NCAA tournaments.

The men play against UCLA, in Houston, on Friday, March 27.

The women go up against Tennessee here at the Spokane Memorial Veterans Arena, Saturday, March 28.

Katie Ross
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Reporter Katie Ross covers manufacturing, hospitality, and government at the Journal of Business. An outdoor enthusiast and snowboard fanatic, Katie is a recent graduate of Gonzaga University.  

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