September 28, 2023

Purdue University’s R. Ethan Braden recognized internationally as Marketer of the Year

‘What Can You Imagine at Purdue?’ named finalist, draws 28M viewers and unheard-of attention to university content

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – R. Ethan Braden, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for Purdue University and Purdue Global, was named Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) on Thursday (Sept. 28). Winning the business to consumer category, Braden won the award over finalists from State Farm and The Humane Society of the United States.

Braden is a central spokesperson for Purdue’s primary storytelling and strategic initiatives. His advice on leadership, brand management and higher education has appeared in Fast Company magazine, The Washington Post, Ad Age, The Hechinger Report and Morning Brew. He has spoken at Salesforce’s Dreamforce and Google Marketing Live, and he teaches personal branding to student-athletes.

“This humbling award represents the dedication of both the expert, impassioned and hardworking team of brand and story ambassadors that make up Purdue’s Marketing and Communications department, as well as every Boilermaker student, faculty member, researcher, employee, board member, alumnus, fan and partner around the globe who represents and propels awareness and affinity for the Purdue brand,” Braden said.  

A centerpiece of this year’s content from the marketing team, “What Can You Imagine at Purdue?” was also a finalist during the ceremony, standing next to brands such as Wells Fargo, Salesforce and State Farm for Content Marketing Project of the Year. Considered the Oscar for Best Picture of the marketing world, the award is bestowed on the best from thousands of submissions across all categories.

Additional Information:

Receiving over 28.3 million views since its release on Nov. 10, 2022, and eight million views within its first month, Purdue’s heartwarming commercial depicts the lifetime of educational opportunities available through Purdue’s portfolio — from Purdue Polytechnic High Schools, through the flagship campus in West Lafayette, and on to Purdue Global for working adult learners.

Spearheaded by Purdue’s internal marketing team and produced in partnership with Toledo-based Madhouse, “What Can You Imagine at Purdue?” was a success within and beyond Purdue’s content, overtaking all other videos on the university’s YouTube channel and bypassing all other Big Ten peers in views within the first month. Not only did people tune in to the spot, but they also kept it on: eight out of 10 viewers watch the entire two-minute video. According to YouTube Analytics, seven out of 10 is considered excellent.

“This spot was created with a lot of heart,” said Kelly Hiller, executive director of creative services for Purdue’s marketing team. “Our goal was to showcase that Purdue University is a place where you can achieve what you imagine. That the video continues to resonate with so many millions of people shows, I think, that we captured this unique essence while inspiring future Boilermakers.” 

Purdue University, Purdue Global and the marketing teams behind them have been showcased in other ways of late, participating in major innovation and industry gatherings including Fast Company’s 2023 Innovation Festival and Purdue Global partnering with AdWeek for 2023 Brandweek, where Braden spoke about the future of the marketing field.

In addition to winning Marketer of the Year and being named finalist for Project of the Year, Purdue was also a winner or finalist in seven other CMI award categories, which were announced earlier in the season:

  • “What Can You Imagine at Purdue?” — Best Motivational Video or Video Series, Winner
  • This Is Purdue podcast — Best Podcast/Audio Series, Finalist
  • “What Can You Imagine at Purdue?” — Paid Advertising/Content Marketing Integration, Finalist
  • The Persistent Pursuit — Best Content-Driven Website, Finalist
  • “Sounds of Persistence” video series — Best Short Form Video or Video Series as Part of a Content Marketing Program, Finalist (Aidan O’Connell, Raven Colvin, Mason Gillis)
  • Purdue MarCom 2022 Impact Report — Best Annual Report — Editorial, Finalist
  • Semiconductor Campus — Visual Storytelling — Best Use of Illustration, Finalist

Outlined in its annual Impact Report, Purdue Marketing and Communications defines its role as to “position, promote and protect the Purdue portfolio” by elevating the stories of real Boilermakers. Through skilled earned media strategy and a connection to the campus community, the Marketing and Communications team pursues new ways to increase global recognition of the Purdue brand.

In July, Purdue was named the No. 3 most recognized U.S. public university (and No. 10 globally), coming in ahead of institutions like Yale University, the University of Cambridge and UCLA. As the country’s No. 4 most trusted public university, according to Morning Consult, Purdue has also been named a Brand That Matters for two years in a row and a top 20 Most Innovative Company by Fast Company magazine.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution with excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top 4 in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, with 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 12 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap, including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and Purdue Computes, at

Writer/Media contact: Christy McCarter,, @ChristyMcCarter

Source: Ethan Braden

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