The University of Wyoming is moving forward with a new marketing campaign that some faculty members have criticized as excluding women and minorities.
The slogan — “The World Needs More Cowboys” — will be used in marketing materials and contrasted with images of students and staff that don’t fit the stereotypical cowboy image, according to an announcement from the university made late Thursday afternoon.
“Drawing upon Wyoming’s proud heritage, this campaign redefines what it means to be a Cowboy in this day and age, distilling it down to the inner spirit of curiosity and boldness that all who call themselves Cowboys and Cowgirls can identify with — no matter their race or gender, or whether they’re students, employees, alumni or other supporters,” UW President Laurie Nichols said in the announcement.
A number of faculty leaders spoke out against the slogan, and responses to a survey sent out by a professor were dominated by people who criticized the campaign as sexist, racist, counterproductive and “radically misguided.”
Christine Porter, who circulated the survey, said it’s no longer acceptable “.. to use the generic masculine and pretend that includes the feminine,” and that the word “cowboy” brings to mind an image of a straight white man and past conflicts with Native Americans.
Donal O’Toole, the Faculty Senate chairman, called the slogan “fairly sexist.”
Chad Baldwin, UW’s associate vice president for communications and marketing, said the intent of the campaign was to “recast” the concept of a cowboy to be more inclusive. Focus groups showed that the percentage of female and non-white high school students who would consider applying to the University increased significantly after viewing a promotional video from the campaign, Baldwin said.
Following the backlash from faculty and subsequent support from others who spoke out in favor of the slogan, UW will be rolling out parts of the campaign earlier than planned.
“Plus, we think it’s important for people to see the full context for the primary tagline as soon as possible,” Baldwin said in the announcement.
The slogan is the product of a Boulder, Colorado-based marketing firm, Victor and Spoils. To date, UW has paid the firm about $500,000 for work on the campaign, which is intended to raise the school’s national and international profile as part of its strategic plan.
A number of other “sub-taglines” will be used in the campaign, according to the release. They include:
- “The World Needs More Relentless Curiosity.”
- “The World Needs More Unbendable Optimism.”
- “The World Needs More Outside Thinkers.”
- “The World Needs More Fearless Independence.”
- “The World Needs More Unyielding Courage.”
- “Bucking the System Since 1886.”
- “Epically Innovative Since 1886.”
- “Strongly Resilient Since 1886.”
The total budget for the campaign is $1.4 million.