In case you missed it, we're in part two of a series here. (Most of our serial features end up like the proposed "Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins!" series--not very serial at all.) In part one, we profiled a stereotypically bad university ad, a spot for the University of North Dakota. Hint: essential classes at UND would appear to be "bowstaff skills" and "sweet moves."
Today we profile a truly kickass ad, one that manages to avoid all of the pitfalls the UND ads and many more walk gleefully into the teeth of: the Michigan "The Michigan Difference" ad. Enjoy.
School: University of Michigan
Ad title:: "The Michigan Difference."
EDSBS title:: "Space, bitches. Space."
Setup: A luminous shot of the earth seen from orbit, taking up half of the screen to the left. The deep rumbling sound that all science fiction fans will recognize as the scientifically inaccurate "deafening silence of space." Three names fade into the right half of the screen, followed by the words "APOLLO 15" and "AN ALL U OF M CREW." A tinny, bouncy noise begins to echo, and a silvery dot grows larger on the screen...the lunar command module makes its entrance, and you hear the sound of "Hail to the Victors" being channeled through a treble-heavy NASA relay, with a male voice clearly dum-dah-duh-ing along. An announcer intones, "Our students move on, but the spirit stays with them." End with shot of big yellow Wolverines "M" superimposed over half the earth with "The Michigan Difference" beneath it.
Subtext: Michigan grads go to space. Motherfucking space. Not just one, either, but three at a time. In fucking space. Which pwns your ass. We send them up there and they sing our fight song and everyone else sucks our hairy cheeks while we stare at you puny mortals from--get this--the furthest reaches of fucking space. Because being an astronauts is one of the few jobs where a person not only has to be a badass willing to be strapped to the top of an enormous rocket and shot into--yep--outer-motherfucking-space, but you have to be juggling-equations, balls-out brilliant to even think about doing it. That's us. We rule, you suck, and that's all too sad, isn't it?
Space, bitches. Space.
Production values: High. Shot on digital with quality CGI effects. Good audio, particularly on the simulated Nasa channel.
Hits: Superimposing Michigan's logo over the entire earth, which must look to Ohio State fans like the Dark Mark looks to Harry Potter. Associating Michigan with astronaut, one of only two basic childhood employment fantasies to require a college degree (fireman, explorer, cowboy, and pirate are, as far as we know, two-year degrees or apprenticeship programs. Doctor would be the other.)
Misses: Many young Michigan applicants might not know what NASA is, or at the opposite spectrum, might already be thinking about how limiting the federal pension system would be during retirement planning following their career as an astronaut. Lack of hot ass is weak, but oblique sports reference cleverly ties in heritage pandemic sports mania at U of M.
Summary grade: A. An ad that avoids the textbook pitfalls, looks like it had some coin dropped for it, and manages to convey the most important message of a university ad: come here, and you won't be poor, ugly, and miserable like people who go elsewhere. (Cough cough Michigan State cough cough.) And unlike those Ivy league frilly-drawers, we send mad bastards to--yes--- outer-fucking- space. Top shelf stuff.