U. of Phoenix Picks Pereira & O'Dell as Lead Creative

School Will Stir up Media Mix on $220M Account as Focus Shifts Away From Heavy Online Spending

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Start-up Pereira & O'Dell, has been tapped as the lead creative agency for the University of Phoenix's $220 million account, concluding a review that began this summer.

The San Francisco-based shop, which was opened earlier this year by former AKQA executives P.J. Pereira and Andrew O'Dell, beat out established players such as Havas' Arnold, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Mullen and Omnicom Group's EVB in the final round.

In recent times the University of Phoenix, owned by Phoenix-based Apollo Group, has not had a lead creative agency; it instead has drawn on a variety of shops for project work. Interpublic Group's Initiative is its media agency.

The work Pereira & O'Dell presented showed "they want to be connected to the democratization of education in this country," said Michael Sullivan, senior VP-marketing and media services with Aptimus, a subsidiary of Apollo Group.

University of Phoenix offers some 100 degree programs at local campuses and online, at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels in a disciplines from business and health care to education. It's goal is to make higher education accessible for working students via evening classes, online courses, e-books and more.

Mr. Sullivan believes the institution has a unique opportunity given the current economic environment, as "people may be forced to reimagine what their future looks like" and develop new skills.

The University of Phoenix will be Pereira & O'Dell's largest client so far; others on the roster include Lego and Yahoo.

The school's marketing budget is huge; in 2007 it spent $222 million on domestic measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence, with the largest chunk devoted to online marketing.

That media mix is set to change though, as the marketer is readjusting its strategy more broadly across broadcast, print and outdoor mediums with an integrated campaign set to break in early January.

"When more and more advertisers are moving their budgets on online, we are taking a step back, moving offline and into traditional media channels," Mr. Sullivan said.

Most Popular