Simple plan far too simple

April 18, 2013

I was not at the conference at which “expert” Tom Green made his remarks about university marketing, so perhaps I missed the insights from which his recommendations were derived (“Message received: just keep it simple”, News, 4 April). But it seems to me that his remarks smack of a naive understanding of both the essence of the sector’s offering (universities as beacons of reflection, ambiguity, diverse voices and spaces for transformation) and the role of “responsible” marketing communications (to be authentic, useful and “beyond mere promotion”).

If his list of rather frivolous suggestions were enacted (by, say, using fewer words and more attractive pictures in marketing material), not only would we be doing a disservice to future students - by infantilising them - we would also be going against a fundamental principle of marketing: differentiation.

If university heads of marketing really think that pithy, upbeat words are the way to boost morale or achieve sustainable, responsible recruitment, I suggest that they read some of the excellent published research on how higher education is marketed.

Richard Scullion
Senior lecturer
Emerging Consumer Cultures Group
Bournemouth Media School

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