Let students design Columbia ads

By Lauren Kelly

This past summer, Columbia created a billboard campaign aimed at reaching prospective students and donors to the college, as well as increasing awareness about Columbia in the Chicago community. The ads rotate in nine different locations that are prominently displayed on various city highways and outside the Ogilvie Transportation Center, 500 W. Madison St.

The billboards, which show students jumping in the air with the word “innovation” in capital letters over them, do not represent the student culture that exists at Columbia. If the college is going to advertise, it needs to do so in a more authentic way that communicates what Columbia is actually about, instead of relying on a flashy image to please the eye.

Students come to Columbia to learn their craft by practicing it. Students at this college create amazing work and what they produce should be shown in these ads in order to let the community know what Columbia represents and what innovations the school is actually producing.

The next ad campaign that the college decides to invest in should be designed by students. This could be implemented through a class students can take for credit. The goal of the class should be to produce an advertisement that will enlighten thousands of people will see. The project could incorporate many different majors such as advertising art direction, marketing communications, graphic design, photography, fine arts and illustration.

Because classes already exist that allow students to work on a product that is then distributed on campus or allow them to practice their chosen profession through a semester-long practicum, a student-designed, city-wide ad campaign would be a smart, cost-effective project to carry out in one of the aforementioned classes.

Columbia does make a large effort to showcase student work, but getting students involved in creating the advertisements is a great opportunity for the students involved, as well as for the school as a whole, to communicate to the city what the college is about.

This could save the college money because it wouldn’t have to pay designers and a separate marketing team. In fact, the college may even make money because students would be paying to take the class. This idea could provide a new outlet for students to practice their craft and see the results, and may inspire prospective students to do the same.