By Aidan Ryan & Amy Brooks
Criticism of Canisius College’s new marketing campaign, which went $500,000 over an as-yet unreleased budget, is unfounded, President John Hurley said this week in an exclusive interview with The Griffin.
“You’re seeing the first generation, and you wanna say ‘Kill this thing,’” said the president.
Hurley’s comments, which came in response to a Griffin editorial that called the branding campaign by Philadelphia ad agency 160over90 “a complete embarrassment,” was his first public statement about the campaign and represented a departure for the president, who has been criticized for granting few media interviews–most recently by members of the women’s synchro team, who reported that, when trying to bring complaints to the President, his secretary “practically hung up on us,” according to senior swimmer Missy Andrews.
The campaign is the result, but not the culmination, of extensive student polling and research conducted by the 160over90’s “Team Canisius.” As Hurley pointed out, the current batch of billboards and viewbooks represent an evolving process.
The team responsible for the marketing effort consists of two designers, two photographers, a copywriter, an account supervisor, and an account executive, under the supervision of 160over90 Executive Creative Director Jim Walls.
The re-branding campaign was partly funded by alumni donations, and catalyzed by a desire to invigorate Canisius’ image and spread it to a wider audience.
Whether hot, cold or lukewarm, the campaign has generated unprecedented student reaction in The Griffin, in the hallways, and on social media websites.
Sophomore Ashleigh Maciejewski, for example, had mixed thoughts. “I like that the photographs have current students. Our old photos had outdated computers in them.” However, she expressed dissatisfaction with the campaign’s written component. “Phrases like ‘Don’t go to college’ don’t sit well with me,” she said, and ultimately stressed, “I’m not a fan of the ad campaign.”
“I think it has good intentions,” sophomore Kevin Howard said, “and I give the administration credit for giving it a shot. I do not feel, however, that it does adequate justice for all the great qualities that the college has.”
“I think it says that we’re a college that has a wildly distorted view of how the young intellectuals of the day make decisions,” he added.
Sophomore Hanna Etu was less passionate in her distaste. “I do not have any huge issue with the ad campaign,” she said, “though it is a little juvenile and the taglines are pretty off-putting.”
Senior Nick Wiltsie said, “It’s not awful. There’s nothing wrong with exploring. Much of what we do at Canisius involves exploring. But it certainly could be better.”
Still, there are some avid supporters on this new campaign. Freshman Vance Stinson was particularly upset with The Griffin’s recent editorial against the College’s efforts. “I am very disappointed with The Griffin’s article,” Stinson said. “There are many things I find wrong with the article but there is one thing that upsets me the most. We represent this school so much more than a slogan or marketing campaign. I didn’t choose Canisius because it’s ‘Where Leaders Are Made.’ I chose Canisius because of the atmosphere, students and faculty. They left more of an impression on me than the slogan.”
Senior Megan Hull tried to find some middle ground. She said that the campaign “is not original and it makes the school seem a little bit fake–at least to those of us already here,” although she approved of the spirit of the “exploring” message. “There is a rethink necessary here,” she said, “problems easily remedied by coming back to a middle ground, combining an emphasis on community and cultural exploration with academic rigor. ’Expand your Mind, go exploring.’ or ‘We let the world be our classroom.’”
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