Goodman: New NU commercial better, but still room for improvement


Meredith Goodman, Columnist

I wanted to go to the football game Saturday against Wisconsin, but I realized that fasting during Yom Kippur and standing up for a full three hours do not go well together. Instead, I had the opportunity to watch the game, along with a lot of other great football match-ups, on TV. One advantage to watching college football games on television is getting to see university commercials, both our commercials and other schools’.

I have a slight obsession with watching and critiquing other university ads. With all those biased and calculated college reviews out there, I love when universities have just 30 seconds to advertise themselves on national television. In fact, I previously wrote a column about the need for a new NU game-day commercial.

In that column, I focused on the idea that Northwestern’s game-day commercials need to feature student achievements rather than purple, sports or school pride. Although I love our school’s athletic traditions, no one will want to come to NU specifically because of our membership in the Big Ten Conference — unlike perhaps Ohio State or Michigan.

Administrators may have skimmed my column, because the newest NU commercial features a whole roster of achievements. Not student achievements though — instead it seems to be a blend of faculty and alumni accomplishments. Entitled “Pioneering Innovation and Excellence,” the new commercial displays numerous awards that NU alumni and faculty have won across “every imaginable discipline,” from Emmy Awards to Pulitzer Prizes.

At least I must assume that the people who won these awards for NU are alumni and faculty. The award titles flash across the screen without mentioning the person who won each, without even a little thumbnail of a picture.  We have a random stream of awards, albeit impressive awards, but we don’t even have a glimpse of who won them and what amazing work they did to win these awards.

In one of my previous columns, I mentioned Michigan State’s “Spartans Will” ad campaign as an inspiration for showcasing student achievements. This column I will stray from the Big Ten Conference to highlight a school that I think does a better job of spotlighting alumni and faculty accomplishments than NU does. The commercial, produced by the University of Utah, is entitled “Imagine.”

The University of Utah ad starts out with the line, “Why would you go to the U? Isn’t Utah just a bunch of pioneers?” It then depicts Utah grads and faculty in their lines of work, including some former Ph.D. students doing medical research and M.F.A.s performing incredible works of art, all while including their names and titles. It showcases a great variety of work that their alumni and faculty do, like happens at NU, but the added effect of that personal touch, physically seeing the alumni doing their work, makes the commercial much more special.

If NU wants to keep forgoing student achievements for those of our faculty and alumni, then we should at least include the award winner’s name and the project he or she won the award for, to give them credit and add a personal touch. A prospective student watching the commercial won’t really care that someone from NU won a Nobel Prize or an Emmy Award — plenty of other colleges have people who have done that. But they will pay attention when they can actually see the incredible achievements that NU faculty and alumni make every day.

Meredith Goodman is a Weinberg senior. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].