Electronic versus personal advertising
Published: Monday, December 7, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
The Issue: UGBC claims that the flat screens are effective
What we think: Fliers and street teams should still be used
One of the perpetual impediments to the success of campus events is discerning how to effectively advertise so as to attract the maximum number of attendees. The Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC), the largest student-run coordinator of events on campus, has made efforts to research just how effective its own marketing techniques are, and over the past several years has been testing various methods to find how best to contact the sometimes elusive student body. In a recent study of how students became aware of this past year's concert, which featured Akon, 30 percent of attendees claimed to have heard about the event via a notification on a flat screen notification, 50 percent from word-of-mouth, and 20 percent from other media. Based on this data alone, the flat screens are indeed an effective part of the UGBC's outreach effort.
The question remains as to whether or not this new technology should be relied upon as a primary publicity tool. During the UGBC campaign to implement the flat screen notification system, the new TV screens were expected to revolutionize the way that students got their campus news and updates about upcoming events. Although these screens are strategically placed in the middle of crowded spaces, such as dining halls, and some students may take a moment to look up from their lunch and glance at the slideshow display of flyers on the screen, it is more likely than not that they'll ignore the T.V.s. The main problem with the flat screen system is that although they are embedded as a physical part of the campus, they lack the human interaction necessary to catch the attention of the average harried student. According to their own statistics, the most effective form of advertising is the only one that involves social interaction: word-of-mouth.
More traditional forms of campus advertising are seen in the handing out and posting of flyers, hanging banners in the Dustbowl and Quad, and street teams who sing, dance, and shout out information in the hopes of garnering attention from the average passerby. The in-your-face approach and dynamic attitude of both the street teams and those thrusting a flyer into a student's hand is necessary and effective in grabbing the momentary attention of all the busy undergraduates who make their way across the campus on a given day. We almost need the face-to-face confrontation to make us look up and listen. In this way the flat screens seem almost too passive, demurely shuffling flyers in a loop that is all too easy to ignore, whereas the street teams push the border on being too aggressive and often prove impossible to miss.
The ecological argument in favor of the flat screen is obvious: the sheets and sheets of flyers and handouts that end up discarded on this campus add up to massive amounts of waste. The UGBC placed a high priority on green initiatives and in order to achieve this, implemented a streamlined, no waste video system to aid in the solution. This would be the case if the flat screens were properly monitored, but this does not seem to hold true. The flat screens are typically left on day and night, sending blazing LCD lights into the deserted BC bookstore on Sundays and a bluish glow in an empty Corcoran Commons over Thanksgiving break, showing all the latest updates for no students to see.
The UGBC shouldn't abandon their effort to gain students attention through the flat screen messages, but they shouldn't try to supplement the typical handouts and banners with digital messages either. BC is a medium-sized campus where students can form a genuine community of information through word of mouth and collective sightings. The handouts, street teams, and even the banners are all a part of how students interact with each other. If we only rely on computer screens, whether our own or in the dining hall, to inform us about upcoming events, we will lose an important part of the bond on campus. Only those directly involved and in tune would attend. When we're handed a flyer or intercepted by a street team, we are forced to engage our peers' activities.