Monday, February 27, 2012

Advertising For Your Class

When I was in grad school, none of the faculty taught any summer school; summer courses were the exclusive domain of the graduate students. And since there were a lot of us, competition could get pretty stiff--it wasn't at all unusual for classes to be cancelled due to low enrollment. As a result of this, there was a real incentive to advertise for your summer courses, and for those advertisements to make the courses seem interesting, relevant, and worthwhile to people with little background, experience, or prior interest in philosophical topics. People would put posters up around campus with funny slogans and pictures and stuff, trying to attract students.

But (while I was there, at least) nobody ever thought to advertise his course by putting himself in a photo surrounded by a bunch of barely-dressed women in schoolgirl outfits. And if somebody did do that, my sense is that the person would have been made to take the posters down immediately, had an unpleasant discussion with the department chair, and been thought of by the department at large as having behaved foolishly (to say the least).

It is also my sense that this person would have to have been a fucking moron. It's pretty obvious, I think, that that kind of thing isn't appropriate for an advertisement for a university-level philosophy class. And it's pretty obvious that for every person who would be attracted to the course on the basis of something like that, there's at least one who would be turned off in a big way. And it's pretty obvious that the people who would be turned off by it would have a pretty solid point. And so I think it's pretty obvious that it would be a piss-poor advertisement qua advertisement, apart from the disrespect for women in general such a thing might display.

Just an observation, for no particular reason.

--Mr. Zero

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the words of Google the Ineffable, +1.

Anonymous said...

When I first started reading this post, I thought that it was a good idea. How to make sure your classes fill and don't get cancelled. This is actually an important issue on some campuses -- and not just summer classes.

But you just wanted to take a cheap, veiled shot an Hendricks. This was a waste of time reading, and a waste of your time writing.

If you want to criticize Hendricks, then do it, but don't write this crap and waste our time!

Anonymous said...

Hey, hey. Hold up a minute. Don't put words in the rest of our mouths.

If I didn't want my time to be wasted, I'd actually be preparing my lecture notes, not surfing the interwebs!

zombie said...

Oh I dunno. Maybe posting pictures of yourself that are sexist (and racist) counts as truth in advertising. More reliable than ratemyprofessor!

zombie said...

Am I the only one who finds the new comments page format hard to read?

Zarathustra said...

Zombie @ 1:11 PM -- No, you're not.

Anonymous said...

"And so I think it's pretty obvious that it would be a piss-poor advertisement qua advertisement"

I disagree. In fact, that so many blogs are addressing it, and it has generated much discussion in philosophy departments, I think it's a pretty good example of advertisement qua advertisement. Because the purpose of advertising is to call attention to a thing and generate interest in that thing. The ad certainly has done the first. I do not know about the second. (Does anyone know how many students registered for the course? If it filled...then the ad was rather successful.)

Is it in bad taste? Yes. Is it offensive? Yes. Is it inappropriate? Yes. But that doesn't make it bad advertising qua advertising.

Mr. Zero said...

...that so many blogs are addressing it, and it has generated much discussion in philosophy departments, I think it's a pretty good example of advertisement qua advertisement.

But we're not who the ad was for.

Is it in bad taste? Yes. Is it offensive? Yes. Is it inappropriate? Yes. But that doesn't make it bad advertising qua advertising.

I don't know. I read that, in general, this kind of ad doesn't really work.

Anonymous said...

Ew. this comments page format is awful. what happened?

Mr. Zero said...

I don't know why they changed the comment page format. It's not something I did, or anything. And I can't see any way to change it back. Sorry, folks.

Anonymous said...

yeah the comments format is hideous. I'm fairly certain that this is something google is just rolling out. Everyone's learned a lesson from facebook: Just roll out your new ideas and pay no attention to the howling voices of dismay and resistance; no one will remember in two months time.

Anonymous said...

word.

CTS said...

Am I the only one who finds the new comments page format hard to read?

February 27, 2012 1:11 PM


No: it is truly awful.

Aside from that, Anon at February 27, 2012 11:39 AM thinks this is a 'veiled, cheap shot.' Really? Only veiled for those who have not been paying any attention; only a cheap shot for those who think this is acceptable conduct on the part of a professor.

In fact, I think framing it in terms of the kinds of 'advertisin' some do for their course is quite illuminating.

Anonymous said...

The new comments page is really hard to read indeed. I bet the person behind this format is the dude/gal who put together the APA site.

zombie said...

http://fauxphilnews.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/photos-on-bu-professors-website-cause-stir/

imprecise said...

If you click on the title of the post, the comments appear in the middle of the screen. If you click on the "comments" link, they appear on the left hand side. The middle of the screen option still sucks, but it's better than the left hand side version.

Mr. Zero said...

The problem with the center-screen view is that you can't actually post comments from that view. Can you? I can't.

Also, the preview function is screwed up.

Anonymous said...

On the topic of advertising, both research (don't have the link to the study at the moment) and my own experiences show that flyering has about a 3% uptake rate. That is, if you want to get about six "hits" (enrollments, in this case), you need to distribute about 200 flyers in places frequented by your targets (i.e. students). A few unassuming flyers here and there doesn't make much of an impression. Paper an entire wall, scatter them all over a table, litter them in a high traffic area. The idea is to get the message into their brains without them actually having to pick the danged thing up.

Anonymous said...

Personally, my experience with Euro culture -- though that was 20 years ago -- explicit displays of sexuality are more prevalent and accepted. But the content is truly troublesome. I think my jaw literally hit the floor when I saw it.