Capturing The Heart And Soul of Auburn

Taking Auburn on the Road

Educe worked closely with Auburn’s advancement team to build a roadshow approach worthy of the university’s first $1 billion campaign.

After a very successful campaign launch, Auburn University asked Educe to work with its internal team to help retool and refine its approach to the campaign roadshow to reflect a new message: “we’ve met our goal but not our potential.” By the public launch of the Because This is Auburn Campaign, the university had raised nearly $900 million of its $1 billion goal. When they crossed the “finish” line, the effort to take the campaign on the road was underway. Educe’s charge was to translate this new messaging into an experience that focused on stories of Auburn’s impact, with an emphasis on areas where support was still needed.

A roadshow, by its very nature, can rarely match the scale and production values of a once-in-a-lifetime launch event (watch this space to see how we helped to wrap-up this monumental effort). But Auburn wanted to bring the true spirit of the institution to events to connect with its alumni and friends in the most meaningful ways possible. The result was a multimedia, storytelling experience designed so that it could be executed perfectly with minimal onsite preparation at venues including the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and the Bush Museum in Dallas.

We started by building on the elements that worked best in the launch event, and created a modular event plan with moments of both intimacy and power fueled by authentic Auburn stories told by the people who lived them.

“At Auburn, one thing you learn right away is that they are great storytellers, and we put the Auburn story front and center,” explains Sarah Winkler, Educe Managing Principal. “For the launch, we created an elaborate setting for the only-at-Auburn stories we told–including constructing enormous replica Auburn Oaks and ‘rolling’ them using confetti cannons. A well-done program is well-cast, carefully scripted, and executed with perfection. On the road, we wanted to capture that same energy from authentic Auburn stories at a scale that could be executed beautifully without days of on-site preparation.”

“A well-done program is well-cast, carefully scripted, and executed with perfection. On the road, we want to capture that same energy at a scale that can be executed beautifully without days of on-site preparation.”

Sarah Winkler, Managing Principal

Working closely with the Auburn team, we identified several stories that could be taken on the road, including the head of the Canine Performance Sciences Breeding Program, and a detection dog from that program, which is saving lives of troops in Afghanistan; engineering students and faculty and a Formula racecar prototype they designed; a nursing student with a compelling personal story and a SIM MAN patient simulator Auburn uses to train healthcare professionals.

Each event featured three stories. Michael O’Neill and Thom Gossom, two deeply engaged celebrity alumni, committed to tag-team as hosts for all of the Auburn Metro events. Our team worked with Auburn on scripting of the stories, and coaching the storytellers.

These storytelling moments, interwoven with performance moments, remarks by campaign leadership, a video developed by the client that featured giving opportunities created a series of memorable events.

Sarah sums up the secret to their success: “The events themselves were relatively simple, but executed in a way that was really smart. When you bring a dog onstage and tell a story that is true and compelling, you have everyone’s attention. We worked very closely with the client’s team, and they brought very strong creative abilities to the table. What we brought was a level of polish and theatricality that elevated the experience. Not every client will bring students on the road with them to mingle with 100 guests, but for Auburn, that was important. We helped them execute in a way that made everyone feel valued, ensured all speakers and presenters felt well-prepared and shined—all of which leaves them wanting to do it again.”