The University Of North Carolina at Wilmington: A Different Kind of Marketing Strategy

By: Erin Duncanuncw seahawk

Picking what college to attend is far from easy for most. A lot of factors come in to play when figuring out what school is best fit for you. I went to Mallard Creek High school in Charlotte, North Carolina. A BIG football school… we went to the state championship 3 out of my four years there. That’s what my high school was known for and that’s what drew in a lot of money and PR for the school. When deciding where to go to college, at first, I thought having a football team was everything until I came across UNCW. UNCW is unique in its marketing strategy it tends to attract the masses without relying on the one thing most schools do when attracting newcomers: College Football.

Big schools like Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Michigan State and many more use their football teams as the face of their marketing campaigns. The University of Alabama’s football team, for example, brings in MILLIONS. In 2016 reports say the Crimson Tide’s football program reported $103.9 million in revenue and posted $47 million profit. The University takes pride in their successful team and uses it to attract new students, fans, and donors based off the repeated success the department sees each year. Across Alabama’s various social media platforms its evident the football team is a top marketing strategy they use when trying to attract new students and supporters. For example check out this AD:


The University of North Carolina at Wilmington takes a different approach. UNCW’s brand is known for being by the beach and its “laid back” close knit environment. UNCW is lacking something 625 other Universities have… football. Football is one of America’s beloved sports so the ultimate question everyone is asking is WHY? Who wouldn’t want to go to school with football and the beach? It sounds like a no brainier. After some research all I can tell you Seahawks is it’s all about the money. There’s just no way our small university can come up with the funds to support it. John Browning, the University’s Senior Associate Athletic Director, is saying that all the employees would love to have a team, but no one really understands the extent of funds needed to make that happen. UNCW gets recognition in other areas that they use as part of their strategic marketing campaign. We are far more than just a beach town school, UNCW has made headlines for the following:

– UNCW ranked 6th among public universities in “Best Regional Universities in the South,” by U.S. News & World Report.

– The University ranked 8th on The Education Trust’s list of most impressive gains in graduation rates nationally among four-year public universities

-. The prestigious Fiske Guide to Colleges featured UNCW in its 2015 edition, and Consumer’s Digest ranked UNCW 10th on its list of the “Top 50 Values for Public Colleges and Universities.”

– Best Value Schools ranked UNCW 15th on its “30 Most Beautiful Coastal College Campuses” list.

– UNCW was named to the 2015 list of “Best Southeastern” schools by The Princeton Review, making this the 11th consecutive year the university has been honored with this designation.

Bottom line is brand communication is huge for any University but especially for smaller schools like UNCW. Not having a huge a football team makes it an even bigger marketing communication challenge to tackle for our costal campus. Although we have 19 sports programs here at the University, only 3 are fully funded and we have the lowest budget in the CAA.  UNCW continues to make headlines and stay relevant even without a huge athletic program. UNCW’s unique marketing campaign relies on the beach, the vibes, and the academics. It also features our teams that have also been increasingly successful like our Basketball team and Baseball team. UNCW’s popularity increases every year, making it even more competitive for incoming students. It looks like for now, the school is doing just fine without a big football team and some of the bigger schools like Alabama could learn something from our marketing team because it takes a greater talent to attract as many students as they do without relying on athletics.