Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Shlub: The Model YU Student

The YU website will be the subject of a number of future posts. In the meantime, I would like to focus on one, simple cosmetic feature.

Marketing is all about sales. Thoughtful, creative, and most importantly, catchy ads exist because they increase sales. Sometimes, ads are created which highlight special features of the product. For example, a movie advertisement will portray the movie as really funny, or really raunchy, either way attracting customers interested in a good laugh, etc.

Another technique is to focus less on the product itself and more on the positive effects of owning that product which will occur to the consumer i.e. you. So, for example, if you buy an iPod, you will become a really great dancer. Or, if you buy that cigarette, you will become a cowboy.

The YU website is in part a marketing device. As such, it displays many images of YU and its students. Somehow, it seems to me, the YU website does not employ either of the techniques listed above. If it would, it would try to spotlight: 1) the quality of the product itself or 2) the benefits it will have on the consumer, someone who associates with YU, you.

If I were the YU website and wanted to show off the greatness of YU, I would display pictures of its prestigious administrators, like President Joel and Rabbi Lamm, its historic figures and moments, the Roshei Yeshiva, pictures of its great scholars - maybe actually in a classroom setting teaching students. This is not the case. Instead, the YU website has pictures of American flags, the statue of liberty, the atrocious brickwork of Amsterdam Avenue, and many, many MTA students. All that tells me is that YU is in New York, is ugly, and is at least in some ways more like a high school than a university.

More significantly, if I were the YU website and wanted to show of the benefits of associating with YU on someone who associates with YU, namely, you, I would follow the common practice of advertisers in this regard. They want you to think that you will be happier, cooler, better looking, etc, by having their product. If you buy Nike, you will play ball like an NBA star. If you drink Budweiser, you will associate with better looking people. If you buy a BMW, you will become significantly classier.

Remember the last billboard you saw? Did it involve a chubby MTA kid or a beautiful model? Did it show an unshaven shlub or an award winning actor? The message: If you go to YU, you will become dorkier. Honestly, I find it insulting. Am I really so miserable as a YU student? Or are those guys really representative of my looks, my taste, my persona - of what it means to be a YU student?

The only excuse I can think of for the YU website is that the ugly, stupid looking kids they feature are the children of major patrons of YU. Or, they really think that YU either attracts or somehow creates sloppy, unkempt students.

My Constructive Suggestions: Hunt down some better looking guys (and more Stern women generally) and have an actual photo shoot with them. Stay away from highlighting the campus - as it currently exists, it is depressingly ugly and uninspiring. Take some impressive shots of the people who count in this place - scholars, presidents, rabbis, its history, and its future. The YU website, obviously, needs some fundamental makeovers, but a cosmetic one would go a long way.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What do you beholders think?

[Of course, there are one or two exceptions to nerd rule on - you know who you are - but they are exceptions which prove the rule.]


8th yr senior said...

If you'd like to make an appearance on the YU brochure, website, or the posters all over every building I have 1 piece of advice for you; Don't shave.

K.C. said...

In some way an advertisement of a hip young college student would turn a lot of people (orthodox) off of YU. Part of this has to do with identifying your audience and I've yet to hear where the 1000 new students are coming from. But with the increase in excellence on the academic side of things seems to suggest not the Mir.

Anonymous said...

how shallow

Noah said...

Shallow? Of course it is!

But if YU is spending all this money on PR, and if PR is largely based on such shallowness, then let YU at least do it properly.

Besides, the points I made about it reflecting what YU is actually about - scholarship, history, etc - are hardly shallow, I think.

Anonymous said...

Noah, I agree 100%.

YU must decide whether it is a real academic university or post-high school yeshiva with secular studies on the side.,, glance at these websites signals the viewer immediately that they're dealing with a genuine academic institution. Can you imagine if columbia's website featured a giggling gang of 14-year olds?

As President Joel has said hundreds of times (and if he hasn't, he should have), one of YU's most pressing issues now is image. People see YU as a yeshiva with a watered down secular education. If we want to broadcast to the world that Yeshiva University has emerged as a top-tier academy, one of our main priorities should be the web site.

That withstanding, I don't think we should feature female models on the opening page. Perhaps we can settle for handsome students hard at work at the lab, or studying in the fourth floor of the library.

Nachum said...

Want something that says serious academics? Reserve as a site. (Currently it's held by a yeshiva in Washington; I believe legally .edu domains can be held only by post-high school institutions. Even if not, I'm sure YU could buy it.) They can keep as well, of course, but it's rare to see abbreviations outside of schools named for states.

Anonymous said...

obviously the YU website represents not only the college, but also the high school, Einstein cardoza etc.
Agreed, there are not enough older people, it would also be a good idea to get new pictures.

My problem is the rest of the website stinks, and is very unstructured, the whole thing needs to be revamped (other than homepage pictures).

MTA Kid said...

I take offense here. We MTA kids look better by far than any photoshopped YU guy. You just can't compete, and striking out at us in jealousy is certainly not the answer. :)

K.C. said...

HAHAhAHA, ive been waiting for this post. Nice! I think the point was if we're trying to attract students from academic institutions we should be making our image more academic too, collegiate academic.

Anonymous said...

and apparently Jewish boys aren't attractive, if only we could get more WASPy collegiate looking people to come to YU

ecs said...

i actually dont think the pictures are so bad. and theyve definitely stepped up the advertising with regard to pamphlets and pictures around campus. i think the website could use a complete makeover that makes it brighter and easier to navigate