Monday, February 09, 2009

New UWM ad campaign: Not that awesome

This topic may not have as much to do with media consumption as the previous ones we've been reading and writing on the class blog, but then again maybe it does.

I recently found out that UW-Milwaukee has begun a new ad campaign, for which there will be billboards stating, "UW-Milwaukee: Awesome. Affordable." The new ad wording will replace the slogan we've been used to for the past year, "UW-Milwaukee: Something great in mind."

Here's my opinion on the change in slogan, and on the choice of the new slogan in particular. I really had to read the new wording twice before taking it seriously. Just two words: Awesome. Affordable. Are you kidding me?

From where I'm standing it seems that the university has taken two aspects of its reputation and played them up in the exact way that will illicit a negative connotation. Everyone knows that this public university of ours is far less expensive than the private colleges and universities in the area, and this has not necessarily been a positive thing. Talking to my brother who attends Marquette University, I have gotten the impression that UWM's reputation is that of a cheap public alternative for those who can't afford the "better" education a private school like Marquette can offer. Combine this with the single word "awesome" to describe what the school is like and no one should be surprised that someone might ask, "Is that all you could come up with?"

Now don't think I'm so naive as not to realize that the affordability thing is a big draw these days. I understand that this was no doubt on UWM officials' minds when they made the change. Of course we should play up the fact that we offer students a way to continue their education despite a perhaps crippling lack of cash flow. I simply don't believe this was the only way to advertise that idea.

I'd be very interested to hear what others think about the effectiveness or lack thereof of the two-word ad campaign. I'd also be very interested to know how my fellow UWM students feel their school is being portrayed through this advertising.

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