Endorsement Guidelines

Guidelines For Responding To Requests From Third Parties For Endorsements

Issued by the Office of the Provost, August 1998

Under the "Policy on the Use of Harvard Names and Insignias", advance, written permission must be obtained from the Provost for any "fundraising, advertising or promotional effort for any entity other than Harvard University or one or more of its Schools or other units." An increasing number of requests for promotional materials or endorsements are coming in from outside vendors with whom departments or units at Harvard have a business relationship.

In many business relationships, endorsements can be mutually beneficial. But endorsements can also lead to misunderstandings and to misuse of Harvard’s name or reputation. In most cases, the business relationship will be with an individual unit within the University, which the business may want to represent broadly as with "Harvard." In some cases, the business, in order to promote itself, may make representations about quality or performance which are either not founded or premature from the perspective of the department or unit at Harvard. In other cases, the endorsements may be expected as a return for discounted or free products, without that fact’s being disclosed.
Based on these concerns, the following guidelines have been developed for responding to requests for endorsement from outside parties. In general, endorsements of this type are discouraged, and we hope they will be the exception rather than the rule of business relationships with outside vendors:

In general, as the guidelines below spell out:

Promotional material that identifies some unit of the University as a customer or client but does not give an opinion concerning the quality of a product is permissible. In these cases, the name of a particular school or department may be used, but not "Harvard" or "Harvard University" more broadly.
Promotional material that gives an opinion about the quality of a product or service is only permissible when done by an individual in his/her personal capacity, not when done by a school, department or other unit of the University. In the case of an individual, reference to that person’s University title or position may be made only if there is explicit recognition that the statements made do not officially represent views of the University or any of its units or officers.


1. "Harvard" or "Harvard University" does not endorse products or services.

2. Because of the potential for misunderstandings or misuse, endorsements of this kind are generally discouraged.

3. However, individual faculty or staff may give opinions or make endorsements solely in their personal capacity.

4. If individuals who give such personal opinions are identified as connected with Harvard, there should be some additional statement to the effect that the views represented are not official ones of the University or any of its units or officers.

5. We generally do not allow use of the "Veritas" shield or other official Harvard insignia in connection with promotional material.

6. When a promotional announcement is made (e.g. identification of a unit at Harvard as a customer), it must be accurate and should be as specific as possible (e.g. it is not "Harvard" that is purchasing software, but the "Harvard Travel Office.")

7. If consideration (e.g. money, unusual discount, free products) is given in return for an endorsement or other promotional statement, that fact must be disclosed in the text.

8. Accurate statements which describe a fact but do not express an endorsement (e.g. "the Harvard University Office of Human Resources is one of Consultant ABC’s clients") may be allowable with advance permission of the University official responsible for dealing with the vendor.

9. Photographs of identifiable Harvard landmarks, buildings, statues, etc. which imply an endorsement of a product or service are not permissible (for example, an advertisement for a new car parked in front of the John Harvard statue).

10. In limited cases involving specific vendors formally selected under the "Preferred Vendors" program administered by the University Purchasing Office,

1. Use of the "Veritas" shield may be permitted with advance permission only on promotional material aimed exclusively at the internal Harvard community and only when it is appears with the phrase "A Preferred Vendor of Harvard University" directly under the shield. In no case may the shield appear without this notation.

2. This requirement applies regardless of whether the promotional material is printed or electronic.

3. All promotional material of this nature by a vendor must include contact information for the Harvard Purchasing Office.

4. All promotional material of this sort must be approved in advance by the Trademark Program.

11. Use of "case studies" describing the experience of a vendor with the University or one of its units are generally discouraged when intended for promotional purposes.

12. Any written promotional material referring to the University or any of its units must be reviewed and approved in advance by the Trademark Program or its designee.

Please contact the Trademark Program with any questions (trademark_program@harvard.edu or 617-495-9513).

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See also: Policies