2016 Presidential Debate

Campus Partner: Office of the Chancellor

Since 1992, MarComm has been a dedicated player in hosting presidential debates at WashU. In 2016, we took our efforts to the next level, inspired by our place in the national spotlight.



Our comprehensive efforts included coordinating media relations and logistics for major media networks; publicizing the debate through 40+ unique stories, video, and social media; producing debate apparel and memorabilia; blanketing campus with debate banners and signage for increased visibility; and much more. And we had fun throughout the entire process.


In 2016, our inspired approach included producing a light display projected onto Brookings Hall during debate week, which kicked off with a lighting event involving the campus community. We also provided an opportunity for one of our interns from the Sam Fox School to design the overall debate logo (a tradition dating back to our first debate).

2016 Presidential Debate : Brookings Lighting
Brookings Hall


The MarComm team developed a website to be the one-stop shop for information about the debate, including the history of WashU as a host and details of the event itself.

2016 Presidential Debate website shown in a tablet view

Social Media

Our social media efforts included events designed to encourage the use of the #WashUdebate2016 hashtag, and a collaboration with Snapchat for a national debate story. With 11,000 uses of the hashtag, more than 8.6 million Facebook engagements, and around 4.4 million Twitter impressions, we helped share the debate experience well beyond campus. Overall, the debate resulted in 5,000+ mentions of the university’s name in mainstream coverage, our faculty being interviewed and quoted in a variety of media outlets, and 14 billion unique views in print and online related to the debate.

Through branding, planning, media relations, social media, and the myriad duties of hosting a debate, we raised the media profile of the university, encouraged student and faculty involvement, and ensured another successful debate at WashU.

A crowded spin alley in the athletic complex
Spin Alley, Athletic Complex
2016 Presidential Debate : Campus Preparation
Debate Hall, Athletic Complex