Volume 92, Issue 41

Tuesday, November 17, 1998

no. 1 where it counts


The future of UCC advertising

By Becky Somerville
Gazette Staff

An electronic billboard which was installed in the University Community Centre in September is not only serving its purpose, but may also put Western on the leading edge of innovative advertising.

The Billboard was supplied free of charge to the University Students' Council by Digital Display and Communications Inc. as a test project to determine how this medium of commercial advertising would work in an internal, university setting.

At this point The Billboard is not a permanent fixture in the atrium, however the USC and DDC are both looking at ways to find out its effectiveness, said Rob Cressman, manager of special projects for DDC.

"It's getting quite a bit of attention from the students," Cressman said. He added The Billboard was designed to be an environmentally friendly communication tool for students.

While still being used on a trial basis by the USC, Cressman said DDC would be looking at the future of this type of advertising for Western closer to the end of the fall term.

Pete Stanbridge, programming manger for the USC, said while it was difficult to quantify the effectiveness of The Billboard, demand by advertisers had been an indicator.

"I look at it in terms of the number of requests we've had for the placement of images," Stanbridge said. "We've had a ton of inquiries."

The Billboard is a state-of-the-art way of promoting in a high traffic area – a high-tech version of the programming board outside of the UCC, said Jim Walden, general manager of the USC.

"Basically, the aim is for public service promotions and community advertising," he said. Walden added this type of advertising could lead to many technical innovations both inside and outside of the UCC, but he would not allow it to invade the space of the students.

"We want to get a mixture of programming where people actually enjoy watching it."

The emerging technologies are revolutionary, Stanbridge said. He added this visual, electronic medium would display 50 per cent commercial and 50 per cent internal advertisements.

Warren Tilston, communications officer for the USC, said The Billboard has served as a voice for internal programming. He added although it is in the preliminary stages, he looks forward to it having a permanent place on campus. "I think it has a lot of possibilities."

While no decision has been made as to what the final form of The Billboard will be, Walden said commercial advertising would likely make up for any capital costs if one is purchased.

"We want it to be effective also in marketing our own programming," Walden said. He added the USC would be examining student response to The Billboard to decide how electronic advertising will be subtly incorporated in the UCC.

First-year law student Birinder Singh, said he did not find The Billboard intrusive and in fact thought it did not stand out at all.

"When I heard about it I thought it was a good idea," he said. "I know it's there, but I don't know how effective it is."

If students were required to pay for an electronic billboard on top of fees for TV Western and CHRW, this type of advertising would be negative, remarked fourth-year philosophy student Normand Corbeil.

"A big-ass corporate billboard would be bad if it takes away from TV Western," he said. "If it's free it's okay, as long as no more money had to be put into it."

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Copyright The Gazette 1998