February 16, 2018

Auraria Skateboard Marketing Program Wins Gale Contest

Auraria Library in Denver won the Out-of-the-Box Marketing Contest, launched by Gale, part of Cengage Learning, at the inaugural R-Squared Risk and Reward Conference this September.

Auraria Library will receive $5,000 from Gale to implement its “Books and Boards” campaign, which involves purchasing 200-300 professionally-built skateboards and giving them away to high school students, incoming freshmen, and at campus events. The boards’ graphic will be determined through a design contest, to create word of mouth about the project even before the boards arrive.

Nader Qaimari, senior vice president of marketing, Cengage Learning, said in a statement, “We were impressed with all of the submissions, but we felt that Auraria Library’s campaign really connected with its core audience in a unique way.” Auraria serves three colleges in downtown Denver, where skateboarding is extremely popular. Colorado is one of the top three states for skateboard parks per capita.

“We are so excited that Gale has recognized our innovative campaign – to use skateboarding as an opportunity to rebrand and reconnect with our active students,” said

Joseph Sanchez skateboarding

Joseph Sanchez, who wrote, directed, and skateboarded in Auraria’s winning entry, Books and Boards.

” “We wanted to promote a radically different image of the library and with this contest money we’re going to be able to do that.” Sanchez a 2011 LJ Mover & Shaker, told Denver’s Westword blog, “I’ve always used skateboarding to connect with students[…] Boards and books have always been my shtick, and my marketing approach is to re-image the library as a high-tech, action-sports environment.”

Five finalists were also recognized, chosen, like the winner, based on whether they were original, exciting, different, risky, and actionable. The finalists include:

  • Cedar Rapids Public Library’s “Brain Drain”, which proposed covering storm drains near a popular farmer’s market with images of children swirling down drains to promote the slogan “Avoid Brain Drain – Visit the Library” and a special landing page;
  • Texas A&M University Libraries’ “Come Ride With Us”, which would have purchased a “super” golf cart to connect the six campus libraries, deliver books, drive students to class, and participate in  sporting events and parades;
  • Library of Virginia’s “Marketing to a Captive Audience,” which would have used custom-printed toilet paper in the public restrooms of nearby colleges, museums, hotels, and restaurants to promote upcoming library programs, the LVA Mobile App, and other digital resources;
  • Boyd County Public Library’s “Seeking Lost Love,” which would have used parodies of personal ads to attract younger singles via Match.com profiles, personal ads in the classifieds, and even “For a Good Time Call” decals in local bar, club, and restaurant bathrooms;
  • and the Springfield-Greene County Library District’s “We Speak Your Language” campaign, which would have replaced the Dewey Decimal system with thematic “neighborhoods” tagged with temporary graffiti.
Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Executive Editor of Library Journal.

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  1. I love this article and the book is one i going to read very soon.