We’ve all seen it before — on highway billboards, in the local newspapers, in the form of annoying sponsored Facebook posts or even as notorious cinema spots.

For the past decade, education has been privatised and commercialised by private colleges and college universities. By the quality of ads, it is safe to say that they’re in desperate need for student bodies and are scrambling to get the young and aspiring to sign right up! But whom are they really talking to?

Albeit any commercial that’s filled with clichés will make anyone cringe, but Malaysian college adverts manage to take it to a whole new level. From the ridiculously photogenic students in the park to the I-just-got-my-student-ID scenes, every ad tries too hard to convey the message “studying here will make me a well-rounded and responsible individual.” Inessentially, they are all trying to sell the same thing and sadly, using the exact same method causing an adverse effect of redundancy.

In this edition of The Bullet, we look at common clichés in college advertising.

[Spoiler alert: Contains the full plot of every college advertisement that you will, without a doubt, see everywhere]

1.    A confident student giving a presentation in a packed lecture hall

Sometimes you can’t even tell if they’re students or not. Featuring an impeccably well-dressed group of students and totally unintelligible content on Powerpoint, you can be very certain that these things do not happen in real life colleges.

2.    An exact even mix of multicultural students gathering

No matter where the commercial is set, the main character will always have an equal number of friends from different ethnic backgrounds. They are usually shown laughing and smiling together at the park or around a coffee table. We’re not saying that this is unlikely, but the sheer balance of ethnicity in every friendship circle is highly suspicious. Or maybe we just didn’t get the memo?


3.    Insane amount of handshakes

This Link – How is it possible to have so many handshaking scenes in one ad?  The main character of the commercial is often seen greeting a group of undesignated individuals throughout their entire ‘college experience’, probably training to execute the perfect handshake by the end of their course.

4.    Transformation from casual wear to suits

Like any great story, we need a happy ending to round it all off. Just so happens, all these ones end with fancy linen. The cast who started off as college kids going to classes suddenly turn into young working adults in suits, shaking hands (again) with their employers. And as we all know, a true sign of any mature and successful adult can only be measured in SPF (suits per frame).

The real issue at hand here is that these colleges are appealing to the parents and not the students, who should be the real target audience. This is why we are constantly being bombarded by college clichés, in hopes to attract funding from their parents more than the child’s desire to study. Maybe its time to flip the script and finally give the kids what they want – a real college experience worth aspiring to.

How is your brand breaking away from the clichéd mould?

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How would your brand participate in the golden age of the geek?

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