Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Use Your You.

No, I didn't just write a typo in the headline. And, you didn't misread the sentence. "Use Your You" is the slogan of Wheeling Jesuit University, as recently seen in a newspaper insert, titled, "College Bound", an insert no doubt created especially to draw college advertising dollars, and presumably targeted to teens and their parents.

If that weren't bad enough, the university seems to have created a whole campaign around this vapid message. (See their website http://www.useyouryou.com/)

The word "lame" was created for this slogan. If ever there were an inane message, this takes the (dis)honors.

What could "Use Your You" possibly mean? Use your (emphasis) you, not someone else's?. And, what message of benefit does it give an 18 year old looking for a college to attend? How exactly does one use his/her you? Or, is the message meant to take the "against position", as in against the colleges that won't let you use your you? Perhaps it competes with the colleges that tell you to use your not-you. I don't know; it's baffling to me.

But, I've seen this kind of thing before, especially from America's colleges and universities. This ridiculous message comes from some creative type in the recruitment office or some academic who convinced the recruitment office that he was creative. I can just picture the person philosophizing and then rhapsodizing over his/her message. Ironically, the message couldn't have been written by a Jesuit. Jesuits are known for their practicality. This message smells distinctly of academia.

Why doesn't the message work? For many reasons. It offers no tangible benefit. It has an assonance that makes it nearly impossible to say. It makes little to no sense, especially to readers whose minds are already cluttered beyond control with straightforward messages from the world's most sophisticated messengers. You know, people like Coke, Pepsi, McDonald's.

And what are 18 year old boys, WJU's target audience, interested in? I'll give you a hint, it's a three-letter word. Eighteen year old boys already spent their early teens discovering their "yous". I know; I was one. They long ago knew how to use their you. I'll admit, though, that 18 year old girls, being a more mature group than the boys, might be thinking about how to use their yous as they enter college. But still....

Let's face it: the message sucks. It will not attract attention, lead to interest or action. No one knows how to act on it, anyway. So, I suggest that WJU (that's Wheeling Jesuit University) immediately fire its ad agency/marketing firm as they obviously are run by a bunch of creative types who spend all day wondering how to win Ad Week awards. Or, if the campaign was created internally, move the writers back to the classroom where they will do less damage and hire a good writer/marketing person. Hire someone who knows that clever seldom works in media environments as saturated as ours.

If nothing else, put these writers in a room and tell them they can't come out until they use their yous.


  1. DONATE!

    If you're confused right now, so was I when I saw this headline on a bulletin board message this morning.

    What's in it for me? I'm not opposed to donating to causes I support, but am I really expected to donate because I like donating? There's nothing in me that makes me inherently enjoy giving up my money.

    How should you get me to support your cause? Mention the cause! I will donate to you because I want to help you achieve something. If you don't know what you're achieving, how can I?



    What’s that? This is a bulletin poster which I saw in the GHC 3rd floor bulletin board. There was a picture of a couple of students having guns in hand. It also had details about the place and time of the event but had no information about the event.

    Is this about students in CMU becoming assassins? Well that definitely should not be on the notice board. I like the fact that they used pictures in the poster. They definitely speak a thousand words. This one did not. It just confused people.

    Bottom line: Since I had no clue about what the event is all about, I will not be going for the event.

  3. The poster that I immediately noticed on the Bulletin Board was 'Doscars' (http://yfrog.com/bhphotoyij).

    There were a few reasons for this. Firstly, it was printed on glossy paper. Secondly, it showed the Oscar statuette, a familiar picture.
    It was the same reason why I noticed Survivor Hamburg as well. I am a huge Survivor fan and it immediately caught my attention.

    Hence, I feel that notices on Bulletin Boards don't need to first focus on writing. They need to make it visually appealing and if the person passing by notices it, and then gets the context immediately, he/she will read it.

    It is then that the writing matters.

  4. I really love your Post!! - funny and intelligent :)
    There are a lot of such inane bulletin board posters in and around campus. Two important things that usually catches your eye as you walk through the clutter on the bulletin board are color and a question pertaining you. You as in the reader.
    An interesting poster said "International Student?". I cannot emphasize the importance of question mark on this poster. It compelled the international students to read further. It also compelled the non-international students to find out what is it that they are missing. It was simple and instantly connected with everyone.
    I am really surprised at how WJU could proceed with a campaign that simply misses out on these factors.

    -Rohit Vaswani

  5. "Faculty not Allowed"

    This immediately caught my attention when I saw the bulletin board this morning in Gates Hillman Center in Carenegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. Then I tried to answer some questions taught to us by Professor Ed Barr in our class Professional Writing.

    What's in it for me ?

    Even thought this message was not for graduate students, the message was well crafted. This had a big red color stop sign and wordings written in big font size "Faculty not Allowed". At first I thought this message was related to a party or big event, but then this was for course selection for CS undergrads.

    This message caught the attention of people passing by and made them stop to read the message. The message gave more details why the faculty were not allowed, because it was regarding course selection. The message was also clear in giving more information like

    What : Course selection
    WHo : CS Undergrads
    Where : GHC 4127
    When : April 21 st , 12 PM - 2 PM

    I think the message was well crafted.


  6. I completely agree. When I saw "use your you", it was not attracting for me. How can a WJU ad agency can use this headline? This headline doesn't say anything. If I were looking for any college, then I would not have even seen this advertisement.

    Also, today when I saw the messages on the bulletin board, most of the headlines were without any meaning. it was quite strange to me. I realized the importance of writing.

  7. The first thought, which came to my mind after reading this slogan was "Is it telling me to BE MYSELF?". It sounded more like the advertisement of one of those motivational books, which tells me to be myself.As I read it further, I realized that this was related to a school.I couldn't relate to the context of a school advertisement telling me to be myself. I think the better slogan could have been in the form of a question.The slogan is very vague.

  8. Best Headline - "Are You Ready to Dress for Success?"

    This is good for a couple of reasons:

    1. It has something for the audience (What in it for me!)
    2. Has "You" in the headline, which catches the attention.
    3. Its on the right place - college bulletin board. College students will be interested because it is of their interest and its interview time.

    Another Headline - "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels"

    This headline is worthless and relatively unrelated to the article. It doesn't have anything for the audience (What in it for me!). Its a silly worthless heading with no meaning. And nothing to catch audience attention. In short, Waste of time and money - whoever has written this.

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  10. Most of the posters I don’t want to read it.

    If I can’t understand the tile at first glance or the topic is not related to my life, I will just skip it.

    The few posters that interests me are, first, a poster with the tile “Scholarship Internship” and second, a campus competition event. I analyses the characters of posters that will attract my attention as following.

    1.Simple and easy to read

    The title uses simple words and is big enough. Twisted words and askew words may attract my attention but I have no time to figure it out. It is better to have a picture associated with the topic.

    2.Bright and attractive hue

    The color of the first poster is yellow, and it catches my eyes immediately. Dark words color with dark background is hard to read and hard to draw my attention.

    3.Interesting topic

    Contents related with money, career are attempted to interest people. The reason why the second poser draw my attention is because it seems a fun and exciting event.


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  13. Yes, we need a tangible benefit like a rabbit’s smiley face on DONATE advertisement.

    The DONATE advertisement is very intuitive. I think this is because this advertisement uses an active verb and a big rabbit shady shape. The active verb is also big and bold as well. I can understand its purpose easily. Only one problem of this advertisement is that I don’t what my benefit by this donate is. One of my suggestions is a rabbit’s smiley face. If this advertisement shows the smiley face, I will know the benefit very clearly with the purpose of the advertisement.

    The other advertisement I want to talk about is the advertisement which says about international students’ career service. Its content can be very interesting to international students because getting a job is very important thing to most students. However, this advertisement doesn’t say anything well about my benefit when I use the service and also some words like “Are you an” are difficult to read because their fonts are outlined. How about “We will help you to get a job!”?

    Overall, I think there aren’t many good advertisements which say about my benefit. Most of them are just talking about their purposes or features such as car’s price and year in selling a car and athletic engineering in buggy race advertisement. If there are benefit words like “Save your money!” for selling car or “FUN!” for a buggy race, it will become so impressive and persuasive to readers.

    Chanyoung Choi

  14. I also found some confusing messages on the bulletin board this morning.

    "STEIGHBELTS" is one of them.
    What does it mean? What should I care about it?
    Actually, they made it worse by print the letter "T" upside down. I tried very hard to read their message.

    That is the only one message in that poster, so I don't know any things about it.
    There are a picture of dancer, location and time in that poster, so I guess it could be a show or anything.

    I am so confused about it. It can not engage and attract me. So, I absolutely don't attend this event.

    Kan Khampanya

  15. I cannot agree more. Here’s what I saw on bulletin board today.


    Can you understand this message? I’m not sure what kind of idea they are talking about. Even if I have “ANY” idea, what should I do with that? What’s in it for me or even for you?

    It seems that they post this for the people who already know about this. If then, what is the purpose of this message? Surprisingly, most of postings in the bulletin board are like this. It’s hard to read, hard to understand. Thus, it’s not attractive. I think these two are all we need to attract audience.

    1. Readability
    2. Benefit (for audience)

    Jinhyuk Chang

  16. Though there were many poster but this one got my immediate attention.
    "Developing Power"

    When I saw it, the first thing which came to mind was "what the hell is this". For gaining more attention this poster has a glowing power cord. How could someone develop power on his own? Being a science student this raised few questions in my mind and because of anxiety I did spend reading the content.

    And guess what it had nothing to do with power cord or electricity. Actually it was related to self development and how to make a decision and carry it out in daily life. Whole illustration was based on a simple example to make it easy for the reader to get the concept.

    I think the most important thing which should kept in mind while designing a the poster is to engage the reader's attention in less then 1 second. And this can only be done by using a proper heading and by a photo.

    I read this poster because I wanted some answers but eventually though I didn't get any answer related to my questions but I learnt something about self development and decision making

    Had the heading be "Make a Strong decision" I would have definitely skipped it.

    Varun Chandra

  17. "Dirty Rotten SCOUNDRELS"
    Can you imagine this title written over a colorful ocean view !! well, I saw it on a bulletin board message this morning, and believe me it didn’t make sense. The background image just made it more confusing. The listed dates stated that the “Dirty Rotten SCOUNDRELS” is an event, though. After reading through the (misplaced) information I knew that it is a performance. So, why “Dirty Rotten SCOUNDRELS” isn’t there any meaningful name for that event ?!
    Another thing is that except for the title and the dates, everything else was misplaced. Important information like tickets fee, directors’ names and venue were placed where I wouldn’t look at unless I was really interesting and looking for that information.
    For me, "Dirty Rotten SCOUNDRELS" is just like “Use Your You “ . I just feel sorry for those people who couldn’t find another person to advertise their services/performance.