U utilizes students for advertisements

Hundreds of students are used each year in promotions.
March 14, 2013

During Welcome Week, Sean Hirthe modeled for a University of Minnesota advertisement in exchange for a gift card to the University of Minnesota Bookstores.

The music and English sophomore and other scholarship recipients appeared in the University Foundation’s 2011 Report on Giving.

Hundreds of students appear in University promotional material each year, said Ann Aronson, vice president of marketing for the University, with more than 100 students used just in the seven-year Driven to Discover campaign.

The University Foundation uses “a couple dozen” students per year in its three publications, said Foundation spokeswoman Martha Douglas. University Bookstores utilizes 15 to 20 of its own employees as models, said marketing manager Kari Erpenbach.

Douglas said the publication’s photos and stories always feature real people or programs that have benefited from gifts.

“Donors who read our publications say it’s really meaningful to hear from students in their own words what a scholarship means,” she said.

Similarly, students at the University of Wisconsin are thankful for their gift and want to help out in some way, said Foundation Chief Development Officer Alisa Robertson.

“We feature students in regular life to get people thinking about their time on campus,” she said.

Douglas said students who are featured in the Foundation’s publications aren’t compensated “per se,” but the “Foundation likes to say thank you in some way, depending on the time required.”

Erpenbach said bookstore employees aren’t compensated for modeling.

Representing the U

It’s important that advertising targeted to students is representative of the campus community, Erpenbach said.

“We have plenty of great-looking students right here on campus to pick from,” she said.

University Mithun Chair in Advertising John Eighmey agrees.

“When discussing how to produce advertising, the question of accuracy with representation is always important,” he said.

Entrepreneurial management and marketing sophomore Abigail Kincheloe, who also modeled for the University Foundation, said the photos were taken in order to show the donors where their money was going.

Participants were asked to look excited and engaged, Kincheloe said.

“The photographer wanted us to look like friends, so hopefully it looked all right,” she said.

Hirthe and Kincheloe both said they had a positive experience modeling and that the University’s use of real students benefits both parties.

“It was interesting enough to get a behind-the-scenes look into a photo shoot, so the gift card was just extra for me,” Hirthe said.

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