Administrative Policies

AD08 Purchase of Advertising

Policy Status: 


Subject Matter Expert: 

Sara Simcox, 814-863-6282,

Policy Steward: 

Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff


  • Purpose
  • General
  • Advertising Standards
  • Advertising on University Electronic Means of Communication
  • Advertising in University Publications
  • Further Information
  • Cross References

    To set forth procedures for the purchase of display advertising in commercial print media as well as commercial messages for radio and television, and for inclusion of advertising in official University publications and electronic communications using University facilities (refer to Policy FN14).


    The University purchases advertising in the commercial media only when such advertising is necessary to reach a specific audience for a specific purpose. The Office of Strategic Communications, and its Department of University Marketing, is responsible for overseeing the content, planned placement, and purchase of all advertising except "help wanted" advertising, which is the responsibility of Penn State Human Resources, Talent Acquisition, as mentioned in HR74 Staff Vacancy Announcement Procedure Penn State Human Resources and in HR101Positions Requiring National Search Process.


    Under the direction of the Department of University Marketing, the initiating department is responsible for ensuring that advertisements:

    1. Reflect accurately the University's policies, programs and services;

    2. Communicate clear and consistent messages;

    3. Contribute positively to the public perception of the University;

    4. Meet high standards of professional quality in the layout and presentation of the content; and

    5. Are placed in media that assure impact commensurate to the cost.

    The amount and type of direct assistance provided by the Department of University Marketing prior to placement of advertisements will depend upon the potential impact of the advertising on the University, as well as the initiating department's ability to use its existing resources and expertise to meet the general standards set forth above.


    Unless authorized by the Vice President of Strategic Communications, the placement of non-University advertisements on electronic means of communications using University facilities (i.e., Web sites), is specifically prohibited. (See also Policies FN14, AD27 and AD95.)


    The advertising policy also relates to advertising proposed by non-University agencies for inclusion in official University publications. Approval for the acceptance of such advertisements is the responsibility of the Office of Strategic Communications and its Department of University Marketing, which will determine whether the advertising meets the University's standards.


    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of Strategic Communications.


    Other Policies in this manual should also be referenced, especially the following:

    AD07 - Use of University Name, Symbols and/or Graphic Devices

    AD27 - Commercial Sales Activities at University Locations

    AD61 - University Communications Through Advertising, Publications and Media Relations

    AD95 - Information Assurance and IT Security

    FN11 - Contracts and Leases

    FN14 - Use of Tangible Assets, Equipment, Supplies and Services

    FN27 - Establishing and Billing Service Center User Rates

    HR33 - Help Wanted Advertising

    Most recent changes:

    • June 30, 2023 - Edited to remove reference to HR33 (retired policy) and add references to HR74 and HR101.

    Revision History (and effective dates):

    • November 24, 2020 - Update link from decommissioned policy AD15 to FN27 in Cross References.
    • August 24, 2018 - Editorial changes to update references from AD20 to AD95.
    • August 21, 2014 - Editorial changes. In the GENERAL, ADVERTISING ON UNIVERSITY ELECTRONIC MEANS OF COMMUNICATION and ADVERTISING IN UNIVERSITY PUBLICATIONS, references to the Office of University Relations have been changed to the Office of Strategic Communications. Addition of policy steward information, in the event that there are questions or requests for changes to the policy.

    • May 11, 2011 - References to the Office of University Relations and Executive Director of University Relations changed TO Office of the Vice President for University Relations and Vice President for University Relations, as applicable throughout the policy.
    • June 15, 2006 - Revision History added.
    • July 01, 2005 - Editorial changes in CROSS REFERENCES to replace links to Policy AD10, University Publications Program and Policy AD45, University Marketing Policy Statement. These policies have been replaced with Policy AD61, University Communications Through Advertising, Publications and Media Relations.
    • June 2, 1997 - Add reference to electronic communications <Web sites>.
    • November 3, 1994 - Position Title changes.
    • August 19, 1991 - Revisions to General, Advertising Standards, and Advertising in University Publications sections.
    • October 15, 1990 - Policy cross-reference change.
    • August 15, 1986 - Changes to the "Advertising in University Publications "section.
    • June 12, 1986 - Department changes.
    • August 15, 1985 - Title changes.



    Date Approved: 

    June 2, 1997

    Date Published: 

    June 9, 1997

    Effective Date: 

    June 2, 1997