Students have mixed feelings about NEIU’s ‘150 Strong’ Super Bowl commercial

Nicole F. Anderson, News and Co-Managing Editor

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NEIU debuted a new 30-second television ad as part of NEIU’s “150 Strong” campaign during the Super Bowl pregame show and then during the evening news that followed the game.

The ad was done in a spoken-word format instead of dialogue with the message, “We are more than just the sum of our history. Today we are writing tomorrow’s next success story. Our legacy is diversity of body and mind. Your best you is waiting. It is your time to shine. Be bold. Be known. Break ground. Rise above. Find your place, join the race and set the new pace to become. We’re ready when you are. We’ve been here all along. We’re Northeastern Illinois University and we’re 150 strong.”

The ad showed people in science labs, walking across the graduation stage, playing instruments, medium close-ups and ended with a woman speaking spoken word dropping the mic.  

In a YouTube video uploaded by NEIUlife, Creative Director J. Matt Byerly said, “This year makes Northeastern’s 150 year anniversary and we wanted a concept that really celebrates that. We also wanted to tell our story in a unique way that was also entertaining, so we chose spoken word, poetry slam approach. It is important to us that we capture the spirit of our institutions, the beauty of this campus, and locations, as well as the diversity that we are known for.”

In an email to the Independent, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Mize Dizon wrote, “It will be the first time the university has broadcast television ads in at least eight years, and it is part of a larger strategy to bolster marketplace awareness for our brand.”

NEIU has also announced that the ad will be played during the Winter Olympics.

According to Mike Dizon, almost everyone casted in the ad was a member of the NEIU community.

Amilarry Obi went to Facebook to express her thoughts, “I love it and love my school.”

NEIU senior Maria Xoy said, “My professor showed the ad to me while I was walking by the Stage Center. She said she really liked it and so did many others. It has a very strong tone to it. After everything NEIU has gone through during the whole budget impasse, it is understandable. It makes it sound like we’re still standing 150 years strong but whoever doesn’t know our story, might get the wrong idea of the tone and therefore come off negatively.”

Some students felt differently. NEIU senior Alexis Abarca, who saw the ad on Facebook, said, “I’m not bashing the commercial (and aware that everyone was asked to audition), but it was very Eurocentric… Whenever I heard the word diversity, I associate it with what I’ve learned in sociology, women of color and other people who come from other marginalized positions… I feel like for a university that really stresses on that diversity, they really missed that representation. Where was the Middle Eastern community or African-American women for that matter?”

NEIU student Alfredo Palafox tweeted, “The new NEIU commercial, wow what a waste. Talked about diversity.”

Mike Dizon stated in an email, “The ads were funded by the existing marketing budget, which was reorganized to provide a more diversified advertising mix. They did not require additional University funds.”

In a press release, NEIU commissioned market research and found that in the past 5 years, awareness among prospective students has declined. The same commissioned market research also placed NEIU below other Illinois colleges and universities in regard to awareness of the school and its brand.

The ad is to be aired 250 more times from February to April throughout the Chicagoland area on networks such as NBC, Telemundo YouTube and Facebook with an estimated 4.2 million views.   

Dizon also stated in the press release, “Our investment in mass media advertising enables us to more effectively compete with other Chicago-area institutions.”

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