While visiting Alaska this summer I saw numerous billboards, bumper stickers and headlines referring to the UofA.
As a UofA alum, I joked with a friend that even in the Last Frontier the UofA has a presence.
Of course the UofA they were referring to was the University of Alaska, not the University of Arizona. And that apparently was a problem for some marketing gurus at the Arizona UofA.
Because aside from the University of Alaska, there are several other entities that use the same moniker, such as the University of Auburn and Under Armor, a sports apparel company.
This confusion prompted the University of Arizona to change how it refers to itself in press releases and other communications to UArizona instead of the UofA and UA abbreviations. The university also sent an email to media companies requesting they also conform to this change.
“We are changing how we refer to the University of Arizona in headlines and on second reference. We are adopting the use of UArizona to distinguish the University of Arizona from several other national and international entities that use the abbreviation UA, which will assist us with search engine optimization (SEO),” the letter from Pam Scott of University Communications said.
Well, media companies such as the Arizona Republic, the Arizona Daily Star and the Associated Press (which we carry) said they will stick with UA or UofA on second reference because it has become an accepted term among most people.
There was one media outlet that took the new UArizona moniker to heart — Saturday Night Live.
In its Weekend Update segment Saturday, comedian Colin Jost poked fun at the change.
“Is it just me or does UArizona sound like a punchline to a joke about Arizona stereotypes?” Jost said. “Like, if you’ve ever gotten a DUI on a golf cart ... UArizona.”
Many people on social media took the joke as a challenge to come up with their own uses for the new UArizona punchline. And we in the Casa Grande Dispatch newsroom weren’t about to be left out. Here are some of our quips that may even have a local angle:
If you use the middle left-hand turn lane in the street as a sidewalk ... UArizona.
If you believe the sheriff is a successful crime fighter because he appears regularly on “Live PD” ... UArizona.
If you think teaching is a hobby ... UArizona.
If you sort your jeans by work Wranglers and dress Wranglers ... UArizona.
If you bought your house at a foreclosure auction ... UArizona.
If you use roach motels to trap scorpions in your home ... UArizona.
If you have to take a jacket to the movies in July ... UArizona.
If you think “open carry” applies to both guns and alcohol at the same time ... UArizona.
If your county sheriff is under investigation ... UArizona.
If you can’t wait until it cools down to 107 next week ... UArizona.
If you buy groceries, car parts and ammunition at the same store... UArizona.
In trying to have it both ways, the university stressed that the new reference would not change the popular chants of “UofA” heard at sporting events.
For years the “UofA” chant has been popular among Arizona college basketball fans, even heard at visiting arenas. Often times the chants are so loud during broadcasts, it prompts the game announcers to mention how the Wildcats have a strong fan following, even for away games.
You would think that would be enough for marketing wizards to understand not to tinker with a successful brand. But I guess search engine optimization is now the major factor, and the university doesn’t want to show up below other searches.
The change may be working.
During Arizona’s homecoming game Saturday against Oregon State, few fans chanted “UofA” when the cheerleaders tried to lead them in the cheer.
Of course, the Wildcats were losing by 30 at the time, so that may have been a factor.
When you are at a homecoming football game and all you can talk about is the basketball team ... UArizona.
You can contact Andy Howell at email@example.com.