After ending a five-year contract with local advertising giant Archer Malmo, the University of Memphis decided to form a new partnership with TRAFFIK, a marketing and advertising agency based in Irvine, California

TRAFFIK was one of six firms that responded to the UofM’s Request for Proposal (RFP), along with other local adverting companies in Memphis. 

Tammy Hedges, the executive vice president for University Relations, said the UofM wanted a strategic partnership with the vendor.

“The goal of the partnership was to work together to identify and evaluate marketing opportunities, and develop and successfully execute marketing strategies for all academic and administrative departments, most specifically student recruitment, each of the colleges and schools, advancement and the Alumni Association,” Hedges said.

TRAFFIK has built an impressive clientele list and earned several accolades in its almost 20-year life span. Hedges said the firm’s experience with higher education was a huge strength.

“TRAFFIK not only has the most higher education experience in marketing, they also have extended experience in international student recruitment, with an emphasis in digital marketing, which is an initiative for the University of Memphis,” Hedges said.

The UofM’s Interim Executive Director for Procurement and Contract Services, Billy Mueller, said a point system was used to judge candidates on their qualifications, technical approach, presentation and cost.

“TRAFFIK scored the highest of all the responders and came in significantly lower financially,” Mueller said. 

The process involved forming an RFP committee to score each responder, which allows the firms could earn up to 250 points for each category.

“Once the qualifications/experience, technical approach and presentations are scored by the committee members, Procurement Services reviews the costs and awards the maximum points to the winner of the cost section,” Mueller said.

Archer Malmo was one of the responders, but the UofM decided to take a different approach, despite their history. Mueller said that the change in firms would mean a shift in the marketing style Archer Malmo influenced over the years.

“Although Archer Malmo and the University of Memphis enjoyed a successful partnership, Archer Malmo was not scored as highly as TRAFFIK by the RFP Committee,” Mueller said. “The University intends to change its marketing style as needed to increase enrollment and become an R1 institution of higher education.”

Bryant Dacus, a UofM journalism student, said he was confused by the university’s choice.

“I just feel like the university preaches how they want to be local and be involved in the community,” Dacus said. “I don’t know why, if they had somebody from Memphis, they wouldn’t pick them over someone from California.”

Dacus said the decision is a shift from the university’s communal standpoint.

“I think something unique about Memphis is that they work with the community, so working with someone from California is strange,” Dacus said.

Tyler Fillak, a business information technology major, said he thinks the UofM made the logical choice.

“If they could find an agency in the Memphis area, that would be great for supporting local companies, but sometimes that’s not always an option,” Fillak said.

Rayven Covington, a civil engineering major, said the university is operating in its own best interest.

“From a marketing standpoint, it might be cheaper for them, and that’s why they did it,” Covington said. “It’s not something that’s going to advance Memphis businesses or promote growth in Memphis.”

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