Innovation at all levels: Purdue’s best in marketing

A world-changing community deserves first-class storytelling.

The only university chosen as a Fast Company Magazine “Brand That Matters” and the first and only university selected to speak at Google Marketing Live 2022, Purdue University is making waves for more than providing a transformative, accessible education. 

The Purdue Marketing and Communications team, with Ethan Braden, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for Purdue University and Purdue Global, strives to share the world-changing work of the Purdue community through methods just as impressive as the work itself, efforts earning over 1 million followers across its digital platforms and more YouTube views in both 2020 and 2021 than five peers combined.

Here are some of the latest initiatives from the 2020 American Marketing Association Foundation’s Higher Education Marketing Team of the Year.

If you have any questions or want to connect with Purdue Marketing and Communications, contact: Christy McCarter, [email protected], @ChristyMcCarter

Speaking Authentically: A Brand That Matters

To Purdue President Mitch Daniels, “You can’t have a great brand without a great product, and our marketing team has worked hard to tell the world what this university stands for and how our faculty, staff and students impact lives.”

The only university named a Brand That Matters, Purdue joined 95 internationally recognized brands, including Nike, Zoom and Yeti, on a list showcasing organizations that offer inspiration for others and authentically communicate their mission and ideals. 

Engaging Community: The Persistent Pursuit

A central hub, The Persistent Pursuit showcases the most premier storytelling efforts from across campus communicators in an accessible, central location for both members of the campus community and earned media. Whether the story of an emotional chance connection or Purdue’s history with the Indianapolis 500, The Persistent Pursuit beautifully stages storytelling in all its digital forms.

Documenting Success: Purdue Polytechnic High Schools

Embracing the power of video and accessibility of YouTube, Purdue’s team has produced a number of high-quality, evergreen documentaries about the Purdue Polytechnic High Schools. Covering the PPHS origin story, first graduating class and from-scratch football program, the documentaries demonstrate Purdue’s leadership in effecting change in higher education.

Currently with three campuses in the state, PPHS immerses students and their families in an innovative learning community, offering tuition-free, STEM-focused experiences that prepare high school students for a successful future.


A team of digital producers work with “This Is Purdue” podcast host Kate Young to turn each episode into a digital storytelling portfolio. (Purdue University photo)
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Amplifying Voices: This Is Purdue Podcast and YouTube Channel

With over 221,000 listens, the This Is Purdue podcast has become the unified voice of past and present Boilermakers. Hosted by Purdue alumna Kate Young, the show embraces the shared strengths that unify the Boilermaker community, earning a 367% increase in listenership since 2020 and over 10 million social media impressions.

In 2022, the year of YouTube, Purdue’s team has kept ahead of the trends with collections that give a voice to students on campus. Two series, Step Inside and Finding Fit, commit world-class content creation to student experiences and beloved traditions.

Building Community: Boiler Brand Ambassadors

In 2021 alone, a by-student/for-students team of student Boiler Brand Ambassadors earned over 3,500 Instagram followers, committed over 5,000 hours of service and planned over 300 events to help fellow students feel engaged in the Purdue community. Created in response to COVID-19, when delivering strategic messages was more important than ever, the on-the-ground student team has become a key part of the MarCom mission.

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Shot over three nights in various locations across campus, “A Boilermaker Carol” required two generators, drone cameras, a snow machine, hundreds of lights and all hands on deck. Here, Matt Kerkhoff, digital media producer, uses a custom rig to capture the student performers at the perfect angle. (Purdue University photo)
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Honoring Tradition: A Boilermaker Carol

Taking a cue from students, the Marketing and Communications team found inspiration for Purdue’s 2021 holiday spot in an anonymous Reddit post. Production of “A Boilermaker Carol” united a team of more than 50 staff and students in a video featuring a seasonal version of the school fight song while touring iconic campus locations. Leaving nothing undone, the MarCom team created both an origin story and a pop-up video to accompany the commercial, which has more than 130,000 views.

Ethan Braden and Purdue Marketing in the News

Purdue takes part in Google Marketing Live, only university represented (Journal & Courier)

Launching an award-winning brand platform that transcends time (The Brand Education)

Purdue University is a ‘Brand that Matters’ (FOX59)

How To Win The Loyalty of Your Students w/ Exceptional University Offerings (The Higher Ed Marketer)

Why Purdue University’s Brand Is the Stories They Tell (Enrollment Growth University)

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the last four years as one of the 10 Most Innovative universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://stories.purdue.edu.

Media contact: Christy McCarter, [email protected], @ChristyMcCarter