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Don’t wiggio-ize my school

Published: September 18, 2009
Section: Opinions


VANDALISM OR MARKETING? ‘Wiggio.com’ is painted on Usdan window, above.<br /><i>PHOTOS BY Alex Schneidaer/The Hoot</i>

VANDALISM OR MARKETING? ‘Wiggio.com’ is painted on Usdan window, above.
PHOTOS BY Alex Schneidaer/The Hoot

What does Bill Lumbergh have to do with Brandeis? Nothing, I discovered the other day, when I searched Google for the man’s name. In fact, according to my cursory research, Bill Lumbergh is a fictional character from a 1999 movie, “Office Space.”

I wondered, then, why Bill Lumbergh’s name appeared on a poster on the wall in my dorm hallway in East Quad. The poster was an advertisement for some website called “Wiggio,” and read, “Bill Lumbergh owns Wiggio.”

Let me tell you what I have learned about this Wiggio-thing. It is a group collaboration website started by Cornell graduate Dana Lampert. Keen on promoting the site, the company, which is based in Cambridge, MA, posted an ad on Boston’s Craigslist looking for 2009 college graduates to “wiggio-ize your school.” Those hired would then compete amongst themselves for a $5,000 prize based on their ability to get students to sign up for the website en-masse. The Craigslist ad promises “a war-chest of marketing materials to plaster your campus with.”

While I am not aware of whom Wiggio hired as a marketing strategist at Brandeis, I can tell you I don’t like the person in any way. After seeing the poster about Bill Lumbergh, I stepped outside only to see that the word “Wiggio” had been spray-painted in florescent green on the sides of buildings and on concrete walkways throughout campus. The intercultural center, with its modest brick façade, now displays prominently the dumbest word ever invented since “Bing.”

How has advertising at Brandeis come to this? Couldn’t Wiggio have stuck to the Bill Lumbergh signs rather than using such guerilla marketing tactics? Or, even better, the company could have purchased an ad in the Hoot for less than one-twentieth of the $5,000 prize promised on Craigslist.

Wiggio has discovered, it seems, that grabbing students’ attention is a difficult undertaking. At Brandeis, no less, it can be impossible. Think for a moment of all the posters hung around campus of late. Most are tattered, ripped, and left for the maintenance staff to remove. Those remaining on the almost empty board in the mailroom are among the most boring ever designed. The posters stuck to the glass enclosure at the bus stop below Rabb Steps are soggy and fading.

Speaking of the Rabb Steps, more flyers litter those grounds than anywhere else on campus. They are stepped on, left out in the rain, and are often made using the unattractive Times New Roman font or—even worse—Comic Sans. One wonders whether the makers of such flyers actually expect students to act when the time and date of an event are printed in size 10 point font.

My personal favorite ad is one that is printed on various colors of paper and advertises jobs for $15/hr. with Vector marketing. A warning—please do not fall for that one, unless you want to sell knives in the homes of Waltham residents. (That’s right—Vector Marketing is a subsidiary of Cutco Cutlery).

Every week, dozens of events take place on campus. With so many clubs and lectures and fundraisers, it is certainly difficult to find out what is going on at Brandeis. Posters are a great way to share what’s going on and, in so doing, build community.

But let’s be honest with ourselves—some poster campaigns just do not work. What is happening is that students spend valuable time and money to try to catch the attention of their peers, only to have posters litter the ground and dirty the campus. The campaigns that achieve name recognition, sadly, are the ones that use green spray paint and empty promises of $15/hr.

There is a way to fix this problem, however: if you put up a poster, take it down. If you design a poster, spend five minutes instead of fifty seconds on the design. Use some clip art.

As to the administrative aspect, the Department of Student Life should install more bulletin boards that are enclosed, locked, and monitored. This way, students will know where to go to find the most current information. If marketing for events and clubs is organized and well presented, students will pay more attention. Perhaps then, green ink and Bill Lumbergh won’t be necessary.