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Branding begins in Bulls Country

An initiative proposed by former USF student body President Juan Soltero to adorn the campus and surrounding areas with flags using University colors has started to materialize, but it remains unknown when banners will go beyond the University borders.

Although USF already had some banners, Soltero’s idea for the “Branding Bulls Campaign” encouraged the display of more flags on campus, as well as on roads surrounding the University such as Interstates 75 and 275, Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and 50th Street.

“(The University) already had banners on campus and on some roads. We just wanted to expand the idea,” Soltero said. “They had the flags on campus. The timing was right to do it, so we reinstated it. They’ve done a great job in picking it up.”

However, how long it will take to place banners along streets surrounding USF remains uncertain, said Michael Hoad, university spokesman.

“The flags are being paid from building improvement and upkeep funds (for) the Tampa campus itself. But those are limited funds, and there are other competing projects that are helpful to students, including the recent improvements to Cooper Hall and the Library,” he said. “This means when we move away from campus, it will take longer. Fowler and Fletcher will be much more expensive because of installation problems. And we don’t want to contribute to the existing visual clutter.”

He said funding for the extension of the banners is still to be determined.

“So we can all expect to see the flags all around campus, including the exterior roads,” Hoad said. “But it will be a while before they run outside of the campus boundaries. There’s no immediate funding for that much more expensive project.”

One hurdle for the plan included a city ordinance that had to be cleared first. The ordinance stated that an “on-site banner” could only be displayed “for a period not to exceed 30 consecutive calendar days, nor more than 60 days in a single year.”

Andrew Cohen, a senior majoring in business management and a former SG presidential candidate who helped head the banner initiative, was among those who represented USF at a Tampa City Council meeting in June, helping USF establish an ordinance that allows the banners.

“We worked with Kathleen Betancourt (associate vice president of USF’s Office of Government Relations) and (student body President Cesar Hernandez’s) administration and we went to the City Council,” Cohen said. “(City Council) passed an ordinance allowing USF to have the banners. It was great to see that the idea was supported by students, the University and the community.”

The new banners, which can be seen when students travel along Leroy Collins Boulevard and other parts of campus, differ from USF’s traditional colors.

Hoad said via e-mail that the banners’ yellow colors helps them stand out.

“The colors are not the traditional USF colors because they have to ‘pop’ against the trees that are coming to dominate the campus,” Hoad said. “The traditional green and gold can’t be seen against the live oaks … so we decided to make an exception and use a brighter green and gold.”

Walker Brands, a branding firm in Tampa, was chosen to make the new banners. The company also had the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold-Certified building in Tampa, which Hoad said falls in line with the impact the University wants to make.

“(President Genshaft and I) agreed that much of what makes USF special is that you can have an impact here – it’s not staid and traditional,” Hoad said. “It’s a university that’s inventing itself and helping to create the future. So as a result of that process, we designed banners to reflect the spirit of making an impact.”

Although an ordinance was passed in favor of having banners down both Fowler and Fletcher avenues, the logistical problem is no longer legal but architectural.

“In the case of Fletcher, there aren’t easy light poles to attach banners to,” Hoad said. “In the case of Fowler, the installation will be difficult and expensive to maintain because of the different kinds of poles on Fowler.”

Hoad said the running cost for this project is $69,062.65, which includes brackets that cost $37,510.70, banners that amount to $25,651.95 and installation for $5,900. Expenses may continue to rise once flags are plotted along Fletcher and Fowler.

“It’s going great. I’m just really excited to see more publicity for the University,” Cohen said.