Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Advanced degrees for attractive people

"Our grad program is replete with good-looking students."

That is the message in recent educational ads published in Newsweek. Sure, attractive models adorn products in ads from hairspray, to autos, to softdrinks, but apparently they are making their way into ads for higher learning. One wonders if the woman in the UTEP MBA ad is a current student, a model, or the type of person the program would like to recruit.

Readers stop to look at physically-attractive models, especially when those models are making eye contact with them. Numerous academic studies show that to be the case. In addition, Sam Shahid, the man behind much Abercrombie and Calvin Klein advertising, said that he considers attractive people a form of "sex in advertising." On the other hand, the message may be that this is the type of student that represents the program. A prospective student might be wondering, "Wow, I had no idea I would be going to class with people who look like that if I pursue an MIS degree at Nova."

I may be wrong, but I doubt the models in these ads are actual students (a quick look at UTEP's website suggests they are not). If so, it is somewhat misleading to use stock images of good-looking models to promote a grad program.

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