OSU using star power to lasso new students

Saturday, January 7th 2006, 4:26 pm

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma State University is invoking celebrity clout in the form of Garth Brooks to sell itself as ``The STATE's University.''

A 30-second TV commercial featuring the country music star plays about 30 times a week on Tulsa's CBS affiliate and at least a dozen times a week in Oklahoma City, OSU marketing officials said.

OSU has the most alumni in Tulsa County, followed by Oklahoma County, the Dallas area and Houston, President David Schmidly said in the fall.

The commercial opens with the orange-washed festivities of a football game: band booming, fans cheering and OSU flag flying. The camera cuts to a backdrop of lush grass and trees, with Brooks, in an orange shirt and his signature black cowboy hat, telling viewers to trust him.

``Parents, there's not a better school you can send your kids to,'' Brooks says. ``To the kids, there's not a more fun school you can go to.''

Kyle Wray, OSU's director of marketing, described Brooks as perhaps OSU's highest-profile alumnus.

Brooks graduated from OSU in 1984 with a journalism degree with an emphasis on advertising. He attended college on a track and field scholarship.

The university and the singer, who lives in Owasso, talked for six months before meeting at a ranch in south Tulsa in October for filming, Wray said.

Brooks was recording a commercial for Wal-Mart, so he slipped the OSU work in during a break. And he did it for free.

It's costing OSU about $50,000 to run the commercials, including non-Garth spots, but it didn't have to pay a cent for production, Wray said.

``Garth usually does not talk about why he does charitable things,'' said his publicist, Nancy Seltzer. ``Garth is not one who seeks attention for the things he does.''

Wray said two more commercials featuring Brooks will play in coming months. The commercials are part of OSU's marketing campaign titled ``The STATE's University,'' which includes billboards, advertisements and alumni publications.

The campaign is OSU's first to encompass all campuses, county extension offices and agriculture experiment stations in one marketing approach.

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