Western's "look" captured in new ads
By Brendan Howe
Administration members at Western are gearing up for a new advertising campaign for recruitment but one student does not like the way they are going about it.
Mary Velpel, a second-year scholars electives student, was invited to attend a meeting on Oct. 21, eventually leading to a photo shoot for a new ad campaign being run by the university, she said. The university is planning to use pictures of students from this photo shoot in their newest recruitment attempt, placed around Toronto, aimed at attracting new Western students.
Velpel said she was originally told she was a candidate for the campaign because of her academic record but when she went to the meeting this was not the case.
She was put into a room with a group of other students where they were supposed to be asked questions about their academics and their university life. Velpel said the photographer never got farther than looks.
"They never really asked us anything other than what faculty we were in," she said, adding one girl was picked on the spot without any questions asked.
Ted Garrard, VP-external at Western, said appearance was not the criteria the university was looking for in selecting students for the campaign. He said he's concerned the Toronto ad agency, BBDO, may have been choosing that way.
"Looks have nothing to do with it. That's not a message I would want anyone to receive," Garrard said. He added he has since called Velpel to apologize for any inappropriate treatment she may have received.
Velpel was thanked for her time but told she was not needed for the photo shoot, she said. She originally had thought she would be taking part in a group photo and felt sucked in when she found out the pictures would be individual shots.
"I was glad [Garrard] called me. I felt a lot better afterwards knowing someone at Western does give a crap," Velpel said.
Subway cars, bus shelters and selected publications in Toronto will be targeted by the campaign which hopes to promote Western's academic reputation. Garrard said although the campaign has yet to be finalized it intends to use humour and the university's academics to draw high school students to come to Western.
"Recruiting students is an increasingly challenging job. Advertising is an important component of making students aware about Western," he said.
He explained this is the first time the university has used a campaign like this, which is not expected to cost more than $150,000.
Carol Swift, registrar at the University of Toronto, said they have no plans to do any advertising in Canada with the main thrust of their recruiting activities coming from campus visits.
Likewise, Queen's University does not do any advertising aside from their promotional brochures and has no intention of doing any in the future, said Shelagh McDonald, assistant registrar.
University of Waterloo registrar Ken Lavigne said similarly, they do not plan to spend any money on advertising and will be relying on high school visits over the next year to recruit their students.