Monday, February 18th, 2019

The pros and cons of USM’s advertising campaign

Posted on April 16, 2015 in Perspectives
By Francis Flisiuk

Nowadays it’s hard to watch a Hulu show or listen to a Spotify playlist without being interrupted by an advertisement encouraging you to “find yourself,” at Maine’s metropolitan university.

However we’re worried that where the money came from to pay for the ads, is fueling enough negative criticism to potentially render the entire ad campaign ineffective.

Many critics in the USM community are referring to the $1 million dollars spent on ads as “blood money,” because the money came from savings in the budget in light of last years faculty and staff retrenchments. Right now a portion of the population believes that using money from fired staff and faculty to pay for advertisements is an insensitive and poorly constructed strategy. A number of current students, graduates and community members think that the damage is done and no matter how many times a voice over tells us that “USM is a game changer” in an ad, it won’t inspire confidence that the administration can turn the school’s fiscal situation around. There has never been a time to come to USM, but for students worried about more condemned majors, it might be for different reasons that the voice-over on the ads suggests.

To the critics of the advertisements we say this: we understand your concern but can you blame the administration for trying? Marketing campaigns are part of any universities enrollment strategy. Regarding retrenchments, what’s done is done, so it’s not fair to blame the administration for using that money to try and boost enrollment. According to public affairs director Chris Quint, if the money wasn’t used this year, it would have just been sucked up by the system anyway. Boosting enrollment is critical to USM’s success right now, so we shouldn’t oppose those attempts to do so.

At the same time, we empathize with those that were affected by the cuts, or follow the news at USM closely, because it’s understandable that the ads are leaving a bad taste in their mouths. As of now, it’s not clear if the ads are doing their job. Both current president David Flanagan and incoming president Harvey Kesselman have stated that they don’t think that fall enrollment will see an increase. So far the admissions office has seen 3,809 applications compared to 4,249 from last year. Quint thinks we’re gaining some positive momentum because there’s been some increased traffic on the website, but unfortunately we can’t know for sure if that translates to students actually enrolling. It’s irritating that money’s being spent on trying to convert prospective students into Huskies and we’re continuing to see a decline in applications; but let’s give it some time.

There’s still plenty of time for Kesselman’s enthusiasm to inspire excitement about joining USM, so let’s save our disgruntledness over the potential ineffectiveness of the advertisements for the fall, when the administration releases a final headcount.

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