Before heading to her critical thinking class Friday, Heather Eads put on a green and gold headband, green and gold beads, a USF T-shirt and a USF medallion necklace.
But when she arrived, she said, she was the only person wearing Bulls attire.
“Am I the only one who got the message that today is Spirit Day?” Eads, a sophomore majoring in secondary English education, asked aloud to her classmates.
The Facebook page for the first annual Green and Gold Spirit Day, which led up to the second annual USF Day Saturday, asked students to wear Bulls attire on Friday.
Yet Eads said no one else in her class knew about Spirit Day and she expected to see more participating students on campus.
“I remember Sept. 3 was (College Colors Day),” Eads said. “Green and gold – everybody had it on because they knew. This one they just obviously didn’t know.”
According to Student Government (SG) Associate Director of Marketing Sarah Rasheid, $1,200 in student-paid Activity and Service Fees was spent on three ads for the event placed in The Oracle.
SG Director of Marketing Ivan Gil said the only money SG spent to promote the event went toward those ads, which ran in the Thursday and Friday issues of the newspaper. There is no budget specifically for the department; it requests money when needed.
SG Chief Financial Officer Zachary Johnson said the executive branch budget, which pays for all executive branch spending, including marketing, was about $362,000 for the 2010-11 year. Johnson said expenditures by the marketing department could vary greatly based on the event. Whereas $2,000 might be spent on a large event such as the gubernatorial debates, small events can be promoted in house and incur no cost to the budget.
The Department of Student Affairs purchased and provided three banners that only promoted USF Day. One was hung in the Marshall Student Center atrium on Thursday and the other two were hung on USF Day – one at Bullstock in The Meadows and the other at the rally preceding the last football scrimmage of the semester.
The banners cost about $510 according to Student Affairs Director of Communications and Marketing Renee Svec.
Gil said other materials used to promote Spirit Day and USF Day were free. Fliers, posters, table tents, signs, balloons and wooden “A-frame” signs placed outside of the Marshall Student Center were already owned or printed on campus for free. USF and Spirit days were also promoted in a mass Note-a-BULL News email to students.
Gil said the department primarily focused its marketing strategy on utilizing social media tools.
“Social media right now is really a driving force to outreach to the students and it’s free,” Gil said. “It’s one of the best ways to get immediate response from the students.”
As of Monday evening, the Spirit Day Facebook page had 188 confirmed participants, while the SG Facebook page, which also promoted the event, had 1,938 “likes.” The SG Twitter page has 666 followers.
According to University e-profiles, there are currently 38,041 students enrolled on the USF Tampa campus.
Svec said members of student affairs, the athletics department, Human Resources, University Communications and Marketing and representatives from the other USF campuses met with students in January to begin planning the USF and Spirit days.
Svec said they plan on continuing Spirit Day.
“I think we could have started a little bit sooner with our marketing initiatives,” she said. “Who knows what the budgets will be like next year, we all know that going in. The economy being what it is and the state budgets being what they are, we have to watch what we do and we have to be more creative. Social media is really utilized by the current generation, and I think it’s our best bet.”
Eads, who learned about Spirit Day through Note-a-BULL News, said she hopes future advertising efforts will reach more students.
“It’s a great way to show that we can have just as much school spirit, or more, than our rivals in Orlando and Gainesville,” she said. “Every student on any USF campus should be proud to be a Bull and should show it in some way.”