Gimmick advertising wastes
students' time and money

Some commercials are creative and some are outright weird. Everyone has seen those advertisements which leave us wondering what they were advertising.

Many advertisements on campus for University departments or committees seem to fit in with the latter style of commercial.

University funds and resources should not be spent on useless trinkets. Committees giving away items should remember to benefit the student body they were created to serve.

Most students have collected a wide variety of these freebies over the years. The "University Gift Collection" includes plastic tumblers, sunglasses and plenty of cold drink holders -- all supplied by University departments or MSC committees.

Some of these items are clever and useful, but some have no relation to the group or cause which distributed them. Some are so useless students wonder if these departments have money to burn.

The most unusual item distributed lately is a pair of sunglasses with the phrase "Safe & Sober Road Trip 96" printed on the temples. This phrase probably had little impact on the drinking habits of most students, but at least they could use the glasses to hide bloodshot eyes.

The Department of Student Life used these glasses during their "Safe Spring Break" campaign. While they seem bizarre now, the glasses were an effective tool to distribute information. By attaching the sunglasses to educational fliers, students were coaxed into picking up (and possibly reading) the information.

The MSC mounted a marketing campaign last semester which also left students with unanswered questions. During one week, a different trinket was given out each day to students passing through the MSC hallway. The items included key rings, plastic tumblers and bumper stickers. Each piece was printed with a psychedelic version of the MSC logo and the slogan "Memorial Student Center, Your Student Union."

Again, the intent seemed unclear. The MSC is already a household name. Students still nap on the flag room couches. Actually, the MSC executive council was trying to remind students they are driven by the student body. They felt the various goodies might encourage students to get involved with MSC committees and organizations in the future.

In the months since the publicity drive very few cars have been seen sporting an MSC bumper sticker. Perhaps they weren't the wisest investment.

The Opera and Performing Arts Society tried a similar approach many years ago. OPAS gave away insulated drink holders bearing the group's logo and a drawing of Opus the penguin. Perhaps this particular image gives some people the urge to run out and watch a theatrical production. But drinks aren't allowed in the Rudder Theater or Auditorium. It's like giving seat cushions to students at Kyle Field.

The safe & sober sunglasses were donated to the Department of Student Life, but the MSC and OPAS goodies were paid for with University money.

The MSC profits about $5,000 from Open House, and some of this money is used for advertising. It would be wiser to put the money for key rings and bumper stickers into the general operating budget and returning some of the Student Service Fee the MSC receives back to the students.

Not all of the advertising campaigns on campus are ineffective. Last semester the Opera and Performing Arts Society gave away brightly colored helium balloons. Students all over campus saw floating reminders of the performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Unfortunately, these clever advertisements seem to be the exception and not the rule.

Sure, everyone likes to get free stuff, but the T-shirts the credit card companies give out don't cost the University money.