The University of Kentucky wants to send a message, but with thousands of UK employees working in dozens of divergent colleges, departments and areas, it can be difficult to form one united front. Creating a common brand - a standardization of all the slightly distinct variations used by each area of UK - is one of Wrigley Media Group’s new jobs. Wrigley Media has informally worked with UK since 2012, but the pair formalized their partnership this February.
Their contract runs from now until 2024, during which time Wrigley Media will serve as UK’s primary video production partner throughout the entire university. As the university’s appeal is growing across the country and internationally, having this common messaging theme is increasingly important. David Bertram, Wrigley Media chief revenue officer, said that they are one example of how UK’s communication efforts have evolved.
“It wasn’t that long ago where, for example, that the College of Agriculture could be using a differ-ent brand guideline than the College of Nursing or College of Engineering,” Bertram said.
“No one was doing anything wrong, it just was inconsistent, because they were left kind of to do it them-selves.”
Students may be familiar with some of Wrigley Media’s past work, including the “Imagine” video for UK Athletics, which was created to contribute to K Fund fundraising efforts. The video includes footage of student-athletes, coaches and significant donors, as well as renovated athletics facilities, using smooth, creative transitions to tie the piece together. Current UK freshmen or transfer students might also have Wrigley Media to thank for their college choice. Their virtual tour series, launched in 2020 when in-person campus tours were not possible, gave thousands of prospective students a glimpse into UK’s campus life and academic culture.
Bertram said that while many higher education institutions designed virtual tours for recruitment, UK’s stands apart because of the way it was produced, using a more personalized approach and students with expertise in giving tours. These are only two of Wrigley Media’s over 50 joint projects with UK under informal terms.
So, why make the partnership formal now? Misdee Wrigley Miller, the CEO and owner of Wrigley Media, compared the company’s partnership with the University of Kentucky to that of a long-term relationship that progresses to marriage.
“Quite honestly, we’ve had such a great relationship over the years,” Miller said. “We’ve done a lot of work with UK.”
It all comes down to consistency across campus, Bertram added.
Having one overarching partner takes away the complexity and effort of dealing with multiple layers of partners for each individual part of the university landscape. However, this doesn’t mean that Wrigley Media is replacing the groups already on campus, including partners like JMI Sports, which holds the rights to much of UK’s media landscape, and SEC Net-work, which holds some television rights.
These groups pay UK a fee in exchange for the commercial rights to sell advertising and sponsorships through the university. Wrigley Media isn’t selling their rights, they are simply working to help these groups with their work, making sure everything is under one umbrella of marketing and branding.
UK spokesperson said the contract does not have a set monetary contract. How much the partnership is worth will depend on how much colleges and other university units market through video.
Though Wrigley Media has many high-profile clients, including Keeneland, Geico and Buffalo Trace, Miller said that they are a quickly growing company and are prepared to do whatever it takes to give all their clients, including UK, as much time and as many resources as needed.
Wrigley has a 19,000-square-foot facility just 15 minutes away from campus, giving it local ties and easy access to campus. Miller said Wrigley Media is a standout company to UK because of their employees.
“You just realize, you know, how talented these people are,” she said. “So, definitely our people set us apart.”
Bertram, a UK alum and former JMI Sports vice president of total campus marketing, offers the connections and inside knowledge Wrigley Media needs to hit the ground running. He said he’s formed not only business relationships but friendships around UK in his time with JMI and at UK, and therefore knows the right people to contact to get the right permissions to get things done.
“At the end of the day that’s probably more important than anything— working with people that you trust,” Bertram said. “When those decisions were made, I would like to think it was because they know us and they know we’re gonna do a good job.”
Currently, Wrigley Media is helping the College of Engineering with a program intended to help educate middle schoolers around the state, but it has temporarily been put on hold due to COVID-19.
Besides that, Wrigley Media doesn’t have any imminent plans, other than continuing to find unique ways to set UK apart from other institutions. Miller said that one objective of the partnership is versatility, and that Wrigley Media aspires to reach many different parts of campus, including healthcare.
She emphasized that Wrigley’s number one goal is to let all the departments at UK know that Wrigley is providing resources for them.
“We’re really intent on developing a very robust internship program and introducing more students to the opportunities that exist, you know, career wise in media,” Miller said.
At the end of the day, Bertram said Wrigley Media’s job is to help tell UK’s story, and now that they’ve solidified their partnership, that task becomes a lot easier.
“We are right there at the table so to speak to help communicate that message very quickly,” he said. “It’s not sitting around thinking about these ideas forever and may or may or may not turn in-to something; We’re saying this is a great story, let’s help you tell that story right now.”
Brooklyn Kelley contributed reporting.