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Onward reaches millions with its message of UC’s value to the state

Whether you know it or not, the University of California or a UC grad has probably played a part in your day. That’s the message UC has delivered to millions of Californians recently through a public outreach effort to raise awareness about the university’s value to the state.

OP staff got a “taste” of the campaign when the Onward California mobile tour stopped at the Franklin Building during Staff Appreciation Week to hand out free gelato bars — featuring 10 distinct flavors, one for each campus.

Traveling the state in a brightly colored truck, the mobile tour made 30 stops in six weeks, visiting all 10 UC campuses and dropping in at large public venues. The popup installation offered free UC-inspired gelato, a photo booth and a spot where visitors could fill out postcards, sharing why they believe in UC.

In all, the tour attracted more than 60,000 people and generated significant media coverage and social media buzz. Actresses Mayim Bialik and Christine Lakin, both alumnae of UCLA, tweeted about the tour, and actor Dennis Quaid paid a visit to the gelato truck at Santa Monica Pier on Sept. 29. You can see some of the fun photos and postcards at the Onward California Storify page.

The grassroots tour was part of a much larger effort using print and broadcast media, airport banners and an interactive website to connect millions of Californians with all the ways that UC improves their lives. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage public advocacy and support for UC, stimulate private giving, and remind Californians of the pride they feel in their public university.

“Making sure that Californians understand and appreciate the public value that UC brings to California and their lives is critical,” said Jason Simon, director of Marketing and Communications. “We hope that the Onward California effort will reinforce some of those unexpected connections.”

Check out these other components of the Onward public education effort:

  • The 30-second TV spot, airing through November on cable news stations and during UC football broadcasts, has reached an estimated 6.2 million viewers.
  • Half-page ads in major California dailies and the Wall Street Journal have reached 5.2 million readers.
  • Web banners have run on statewide news websites and digital networks, for an estimated 154 million total views.
  • Billboards in the security area of Oakland International Airport’s Southwest terminal, over a period two months, will reach 3 million people.
  • The Onward website — featuring interactive versions of the print ads and videos spotlighting UC researchers and alumni — has received more than 100,000 views from external sources.
  • The number of followers to UC’s Facebook page has more than tripled during the outreach effort, and individual posts have risen to an average of 100,000 views/day from an average of 7,000 views/day before the outreach started.

No taxpayer or tuition dollars were used to fund the Onward tour. It was paid for with funds from a private endowment established for public outreach activities. Gelateria Naia, which supplied the gelato bars, made an in-kind gift of more than $85,000 to offset the costs of the ice cream.

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