An adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota has piloted a project to use empty trucks to “backhaul” locally grown produce for mass distribution. Computer scientists test robots to try to identify autism in toddlers. University ecologists are enlisting Minnesotans such as a couple in Turtle Lake, Minn., to help monitor invasive species in lakes.

These are some of the little-known research projects that professors and students at the University of Minnesota have led across the state and that are highlighted in a widespread marketing campaign premiering this week to reflect the school’s continued “Driven to Discover” mission.

“There are so many stories happening on the U campus, all the campuses, every day that are just incredibly interesting,” said Mark Bubula, president and co-founder of Friends & Neighbors, the Minneapolis advertising agency responsible for the U’s newest ad campaign.

Out of about 175 submissions on what U researchers are doing across the state, Friends & Neighbors chose eight initial stories to capture through travels across the state this past summer.

“We were on this road trip basically to meet all of these real Minnesotans and really connect with people in greater Minnesota who maybe haven’t felt that connection to the U in the past,” said Molly Dunne, associate creative director at Friends & Neighbors.

The campaign consists of video vignettes that are featured on a website and social feeds as well as in television commercials. In a trailer video that teases the stories, the narrator asks, “Do you really know what the U of M does for you?” The University of Minnesota Marching Band provides the soundtrack to the videos. The campaign also includes radio and print spots.

As opposed to many higher-education marketing campaigns, which normally involve scores of pamphlets and brochures shipped to the homes of prospective students, the “Driven to Discover” campaign isn’t focused on student recruitment.

“It’s really aimed at the entire state so they understand what the U is doing and what their tax dollars are going to,” Bubula said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to know what exactly is going on in research, but these things have such a profound effect on all of our lives just as Minnesotans, whether we are close to the U or not. These stories just really demand to be told.”

Friends & Neighbors was named the university’s advertising agency of record earlier this year.