Canadians go to university to get an education. But it arrives, we know, at a particularly hormonal moment in most young peoples’ lives — a hot, sweaty, risqué fact that the Université de Moncton has bravely recognized by doing something universities never do: producing a sexy (yes, sexy) new promotional video marketing the, ah, all-around student experience at the French-language school.
The 30-second video spot features attractive young people engaged in many acts, from peering through a microscope in a science lab — to making out in the library stacks. It is that not-so fleeting kiss that has sparked a minor kerfuffle in Moncton, while generating tens of thousands of YouTube hits for an advertising campaign that, were it not for a few lab coats, could easily be mistaken for a beer commercial.
“When you launch an ad campaign there is people that like it, and people that don’t,” says Marc Angers, UdeM’s director of communications and marketing. “We did [market] testing for a target audience of 16-18 years of age. And the research showed they were looking for lifestyle when they chose a post-secondary education.”
And the point of the campaign, beyond its shock value, and its nods to Acadian pride (the Acadian flag makes two cameos), its clever play on the French word “langue,” — which is French for “language” and “tongue,” and which appears at least six times in the video’s voiceover including the exact moment of the library kiss (“It’s the language of business affairs … and other affairs”) — is to convince young people to say to their folks: ‘‘I am applying to UdeM.’’
Alas, argues Marie-Noelle Ryan, president of the university’s professor’s and librarians’ association, the kids that bite on the sexy-library bait will be disappointed when they wake up in first-year physics class.
“It is a false image of what it is to study at the university,” the professor told the Moncton Times and Transcript.
There is an ongoing debate as to whether a rape culture exists on Canadian university campuses. But one culture that is indisputably demonstrable, and could be testified to by legions of graduates, male and female, is a randiness that pervades places of higher learning.
As legend had it around Queen’s while I was there for graduate school, things have been known to happen in the Joseph S. Stauffer library. University libraries, it seems, are the campus equivalents of the airplane washroom.
“It’s something we consider much ado about nothing even if there is some perception of a controversy,” Michel Albert, the student union’s communications director, said in response to stories about the ad on CBC and the U.S. Gawker site.
The video’s closing scene depicts a winsome lass glancing over her shoulder, inviting the viewer to sidle on down towards the beach, and a circle of friends gathered there.
They are standing around a fire. The sun has set. Campus life has never looked so good.
“What’s important for us is, it worked,” Mr. Angers said. “It did what it was aimed for: it generated awareness.”
National Post, with files from Ashley Csanady, Postmedia News