‘Brag a little’ a poor choice for Carnegie Mellon marketing campaign
As one of the top universities in the world, Carnegie Mellon has many things to be proud of. Its professors conduct groundbreaking research, and it draws the brightest students from countries across the globe. With this kind of success, though, it is easy to be more than a little arrogant. That is how we see Carnegie Mellon’s recent marketing campaign, “Brag a little.” This campaign offers free decals to students to declare their school pride. According to the campaign webpage at www.cmu.edu/bragcmu1, the goal is to “get the conversation started. Let the world know what university you call home.”
As much as building an effective brand is important for Carnegie Mellon’s future, we question if bragging is truly the direction this branding should take. There are plenty of ways to promote our university in a constructive tone.
In fact, the current campaign has examples of this. Two of the three bumper stickers and decals that are offered celebrate Carnegie Mellon culture: “Got my kilt on” and “My other car is a buggy.” This is the kind of branding we like to see. It recognizes Carnegie Mellon as an experience.
It is the presentation of this campaign that bothers us. By bragging about Carnegie Mellon, we prioritize external recognition: Nobel prizes, prestigious awards, high paychecks. The third item offered is a “Future Nobel” magnet. Unlike the other two choices, this does not promote the university’s uniqueness. Instead, it makes us seem pretentious. Carnegie Mellon’s culture is worth celebrating and spreading, but bragging is not the right way to do it.
Carnegie Mellon is a fantastic institution; and if we put a magnet or stick a window decal on our cars to declare this, are we really being too proud?
I don’t think so.
Our university has been criticized for not having enough school pride — and although it may not seem like much, I think that displaying our school spirit in small ways can help improve that situation. I think this is a great first step in asking students to express their love for Carnegie Mellon.
More expression on the students’ part means more realization of how the university has impacted their lives, and a higher chance that they will give back in the future.