University Policies
Policy Contact
Vice President for Marketing Communications and Content Strategy Email (401) 863-6262

External Marketing Services Designated Vendor Program Policy

Policy No. Issue Date Effective Date

1.0 Policy Purpose

This policy sets forth rules regarding University Units’ use of vendors that are part of the External Marketing Services Designated Vendor Program (the Program) of approved external vendors that provide Marketing Services and are knowledgeable about web accessibility standards; privacy laws related to photographing or disseminating images of individuals; the use of Brown’s logo and trademarked identity; and other associated University policies. The Program provides a list of external (i.e., third-party) vendors that the Office of University Communications (OUC) has approved to provide Marketing Services to Brown Units. Vendors approved through the Program are alternatives to working with one of the University’s internal marketing communications teams.

2.0 To Whom the Policy Applies

This policy applies to all University Units (Units) that work with external vendors for Marketing Services.

3.0 Policy Statement

All Units that choose to work with an external vendor for Marketing Services in any of the below five categories must select from an approved list of vendors:

  • photography
  • video production
  • visual design
  • web development
  • writing/editing.

External vendors approved through the Program comply with laws and University policies governing areas related to Marketing Services, such as accessibility, privacy, and intellectual property. All vendors in the Program have executed Master Services Agreements with the University and complete training modules developed by OUC in areas of compliance related to marketing communications. Units contracting with an approved vendor in the Program must submit a Scope of Work agreement through the Brown Contract Management System for each marketing project. Some marketing projects may involve more than one Marketing Service.

Units cannot work with/engage external vendors for Marketing Services that are not part of the Program without prior written approval from the Office of University Communications. Units that do not receive prior written approval and work with/engage an external vendor that has not been approved to participate in the Program may be required to suspend the associated project, pay the unauthorized vendor for services rendered, and restart the project with an approved vendor.

Because the vendors in the Program are Strategic Suppliers managed by Brown’s Strategic Purchasing, Contracts & Insurance Office, Units are not required to obtain competitive quotes from approved vendors for marketing projects not funded through or using federal awards. Units may choose to request competitive quotes from several vendors in the Program. In accordance with federal regulations, competitive bids are required for any project over the Simplified Acquisition Threshold that uses federal funds. The Program does not establish pricing or rates, but requires vendors to agree to maintain consistent pricing structures to protect against drastic variance in pricing across Brown.

3.1 Exceptions

The use of an approved Marketing Services vendor is not required for projects that require specialized skills not represented in the Program categories listed above or projects related to academic scholarship and research that are not considered Marketing Services (e.g., book editing). Units may contact to determine if they require a vendor with specialized skills.

4.0 Definitions

For the purpose of this policy, the terms below have the following definitions:

Marketing Services: Any creative service that promotes or markets the University, its people, and/or its activities that is not considered to have a news or documentary purpose.

Strategic Suppliers: Approved, centrally managed suppliers for which there is a negotiated, University-wide contract in place that included a selection process.

University Unit or Unit: A University office, department, center, institute, program, school or other academic or administrative entity of the University.

5.0 Responsibilities

All individuals to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy. University supervisors and employees with student oversight duties are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure and enforce compliance with it.

6.0 Consequences for Violating this Policy

Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment or association with the University, in accordance with applicable (e.g., staff, faculty, student) disciplinary procedures.

7.0 Related Information

Brown University is a community in which employees are encouraged to share workplace concerns with University leadership. Additionally, Brown’s Anonymous Reporting Hotline allows anonymous and confidential reporting on matters of concern online or by phone (877-318-9184).

The following information complements and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this policy and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws and requirements.

7.2 Related Procedures


7.3 Related Forms


7.4 Frequently Asked Questions

7.5 Other Related Information

The Office of University Communications reviews vendors in the Program thoroughly for their creativity, customer service and expertise. Units may contact for vendor recommendations and/or review directly the list of approved external vendors and their online portfolios.

Policy Owner and Contact(s)

Policy Owner: Senior Vice President for Communications

Policy Approved by: President

Contact Information:

Vice President for Marketing Communications and Content Strategy Email (401) 863-6262

Policy History

Policy Issue Date:

Policy Effective Date:

Policy Update/Review Summary:


Previous policy version(s) superseded by this policy:

  • Designated Vendors for Marketing Services, Last Reviewed: October 22, 2018