University of Wyoming prepares phase two of 'World Needs More Cowboys' campaign

CASPER — Twelve months after it was first unveiled to criticism from some faculty and broad support from across the state, UW’s “The World Needs More Cowboys” campaign is set for a nearly $1 million phase two effort this year to build on its recent success.

“We want to harness the energy of ‘The World Needs More Cowboys’ in a more deliberate way perhaps within the state and try to continue it,” said Chad Baldwin, UW’s spokesman and the school’s associate vice president for marketing. “I mean, among alumni, there’s great pride and excitement that it’s evoked.”

Baldwin and others in the university have heralded the campaign as a broad success. It won a handful of national awards earlier this year, and apparel bearing the slogan sold very quickly last summer. Kyle Moore, the university’s point man for enrollment, said the slogan also gets some credit for the school’s solid enrollment numbers for fall 2019.

But before it was announced, the slogan drew significant criticism from within the ranks of the faculty. Several called it sexist and emblematic of a certain strain of over-the-top masculinity, while others noted that it evoked images of “cowboys and Indians” and the bloody conquest of the American frontier. The controversy, which drew national attention and sparked pushback to the pushback, did little to slow the campaign, and indeed, UW’s board of trustees approved the slogan early.

Baldwin said last year and repeated in an interview Monday that the campaign is aimed at changing the traditional image of cowboy and is meant to be an inclusive, diverse effort.

“Really, again, the heart of this is that a cowboy is not just the traditional view, that people who are part of the UW community are cowboys no matter their background, their gender, their ethnicity,” he said.

In this new phase, which will be launched and run over the next 12 months and has a budget of just shy of $1 million, the effort will be aimed more intensely at in-state students but will apply out of state, as well. Baldwin referenced the UW board’s decision last week to nearly quintuple need-based financial aid to Wyoming students.

Baldwin said much of the out-of-state phase of the campaign will be digital advertising, and the university is working with an Iowa-based consulting group to develop the exact targets for the ads. That marketing effort will include the slogan and the sub-slogans that were used last year.

That digital advertising will also be used in Wyoming, to target both traditional and nontraditional students.

Meanwhile, the school will begin holding events across several UW counties, Baldwin said. An effort to use student and alumni ambassadors — which Baldwin declined to describe — is also in the works. He described the events as “monthly,” so roughly half of Wyoming’s 23 counties may play host to the university.

“These events will be things we invite the public to, alumni, prospective students,” he said. “We’ll have new videos to show, alumni and student ambassadors that I mentioned before to talk to their local communities.”

He said the events will be somewhere between an informational session and the pep rallies held in Casper this year and last year. He said the events would likely have “some athletic presence.”

Baldwin noted that the slogan campaign and the outreach events are part of the university’s strategic plan goal to hit a certain enrollment benchmark over the next few years.

 Asked if he had heard any concern about continuing the campaign for another year and expanding it, Baldwin said he hadn’t.

“That’s not to say everybody on campus loves it, but I think there’s a recognition by lots of people that there was widespread support in the state and out of state,” he said.

Ken Chestek, a UW law professor and the Faculty Senate chair, said he wasn’t aware that there would be another phase of the campaign and so he hadn’t spoken with any faculty about any concerns people may have with it. Another faculty member who spoke out against the slogan last year — and said she received widespread abuse because of her opposition — said she wasn’t aware there would be a second phase, wasn’t familiar with what this new effort would entail and thus declined to comment.