Think back to your college application days. Northwestern probably piqued your interest in one of a few ways: you’re from a Chicago suburb and you had to one-up your older brother who goes to University of Illinois, one of your family members was a former Wildcat or your guidance counselor recommended it. Or, you know, you just kind of knew about it already, since it’s an elite institution and bastion of intellectualism. Either way, Northwestern certainly seems to do a decent job of marketing itself these days, so you might be surprised to see its series of promotional videos, all available on the University’s official YouTube channel. As Northwestern films a new promo video this month with a splash of idealism, a dash of propaganda and a hearty helping of purple pride, we bring you some of the best Wildcat commercials.
I would say the most accurate part of this one is that the alleged “lifelong friendships” appear to be cultivated in the library. But the claim of “unlimited opportunities” at Northwestern? Dubious. Unlimited opportunities to find media outlets or stir fry options on campus, sure. But there remain several areas of academic interest students still cannot pursue. We should also note the highly suspect classroom pictured toward the end. Where exactly is that beautiful, manicured, book-lined tabernacle of learning with approximately seven students? Maybe one of the 300 students in any given lecture hall might be able to tell me.
Kudos to the producers of this video for sidestepping the truth and making Northwestern’s campus look lush, lively and fertile. Also noteworthy is the visual representation of the elaborate path metaphor — that’s some highbrow thinking. But the best part of this commercial is the fresh take on the classic “Billie Jean” light-up sidewalk concept. MJ of course did it better but I respect the administration for trying.
At least now we better understand the origins of the clever moniker “Nerdwestern.” I mean, sure, it’s OK to be smart, and sometimes it’s even considered kind of cool, but we have to draw the line somewhere, don’t we? And honestly, do the majority of Northwestern students really understand even half of the complex concepts presented in this promo video? You tell me.
What I like about this one is it implies that at any given moment, the Evanston campus is teeming with brooding undergrads, brows furrowed as they solve complex physics equations, develop mathematical algorithms and flesh out elaborate philosophical theories in their heads. Many even appear to do it on bikes. Next time I stroll around campus, I’m going to pretend everyone around me is deeply contemplating the transient nature of human existence, not figuring out what to order at Norbucks.