Kean’s new ad campaign promotes low cost and proper pronunciation

The University's new billboard takes a stand on pronouncing "Kean" Photo courtesy of Kean University

The University’s new billboard takes a stand on pronouncing “Kean” Photo courtesy of Kean University

By Sara Ridgway | Published Nov. 28, 2017

In July 2017, Kean University revealed its newest advertising initiative: 10, 48 foot-wide billboards with the message “KEAN /cane/ noun 1. NJ’s most affordable comprehensive university.”

The billboards can be spotted along highways in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania and are scheduled to remain through June 2018 according to Director of Media Relations, Margaret McCorry.

“This billboard literally defines Kean by name and by values to a huge new audience in the community,” McCorry said.

The website elaborates the effectiveness of billboard advertisements.

“When you consider that billboards remain a visible part of the landscape almost everywhere you go, and that advertisers continue to invest heavily in them as part of their marketing campaigns, it suggests that there is more to billboard advertising than meets the eye,” the website states.

It claims that advertising through the use of billboards is one of the most valuable and effective advertising mediums at an organization’s disposal.

“A common misconception is that the messages on outdoor billboards are too brief and simple to be persuasive. Advertising industry professionals will tell you that those who think like that are probably missing the point,” according to

It is clear that Kean University is not ‘missing the point’ as $313,000 was spent on the ‘brief and simple’ advertisements scattered among the tri-state area for the next seven months.

McCorry said the concept was generated in University Relations as the team was brainstorming marketing strategies.

“One thing our research has shown is that many people in New Jersey and the surrounding region do not know how to pronounce the name of the University,” McCorry said.

A video produced by the University Relations team asking students to pronounce the University’s name, found that the confusion surrounding the pronunciation of “Kean” exists right here on campus.

“Think of it this way: if someone mispronounces your name, do you correct that person or do you let the mispronunciation continue,” McCorry asked rhetorically. “You probably make the correction because your name is vital to your identity.”

She added that the same is true for Kean in regards to promoting its proud tradition and location on the former estate of the Kean family, which McCorry referred to as one of New Jersey’s most prominent families.

McCorry said that so far the campaign has been fun and successful based on the interest generated from social media, students and alumni.

“They have been sharing Kean’s social media posts about the billboard and tagging friends and family who may still need a lesson on how to say the name of the University correctly,” McCorry said.

Junior, math education major Dawn DeMarco had a twofold perspective of the advertisement initiative.

“How to pronounce Kean has been a debate for as long as I remember,” DeMarco said. “People who didn’t even go to school here would try to correct me. I think it’s funny and educational but I also think they could have made it more cost efficient.”

She added that with the technology available today, the video alone would have been just as effective and more cost efficient. While the advertisement campaign addresses the proper pronunciation of Kean, the goal is to deliver a key marketing message of the University: affordability.

“However, the pronunciation of the University’s name – whether it is “keen” or “cane” – doesn’t change Kean’s status as the most affordable comprehensive university in the state, or its mission to provide a world-class education to a diverse group of students,” McCorry said.

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