Debate Over Massey U's New Ad Campaign

May 26, 2015

A new ad campaign by Massey University has set off a debate over the strategy being used by the New Zealand university. Various ads portray students with an “I am…” tag line. An ad being both criticized and defended (at right) features a female student appearing to walk on water in a sundress. The ad says “I am a game changer.” A column in Waikato Times called the student a “pixie vixen” and made fun of the idea that this approach would attract students. He asked if Massey was seeking students for dates or an education and, if the latter, whether it was to learn to walk on water.

It turns out the ad featured not a model, but a real student, Catherine Cater. She defended the ad in a Facebook post in which she called the criticism sexist. Addressing the columnist, she wrote, “You have ignored the age old rule of ‘never judge a book by its cover’ and have allowed yourself to judge me solely on my looks, as opposed to my intelligence, personality and character.”

The university is also defending the ad campaign and noting that the campaign consists of more than the one ad showing Cater. (Another ad is below.)

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