Big-Headed Jefferson Says “Give Me Money”

UVa’s new alumni fundraising video series is so awful that it has to be watched to be believed. They make me want to give $50 to Tech.  #

21 Responses to “Big-Headed Jefferson Says “Give Me Money””

  • you didn’t have to share this with everyone else.

    i know misery loves company, but this is just abusive.

  • Wow. I am speechless. Except to say that your line about “watched to be believed” isn’t exactly true. I watched and I still don’t believe.

  • At least now we see the justification for raising tuition today – they need to pay for the big head.

  • Sorry Waldo, but it comes nowhere close to topping this Appalachian State promotional video from a few years back:

  • I guess you do not feel like playing nice with others today, eh Waldo? It is fairly weak, but seeing how many just plain awful commercials there are out there that cost major corporations millions of dollars to produce, I think this low cost video is forgivable.

  • Granted that I’m not entirely unbiased on this matter, but I was expecting a lot worse based on the build-up. It’s silly, sure, but it didn’t involve bad actors giving bad speeches about the importance of blah-de-blah, there were no attempts at special effects, no cheesy wipes between scenes, no rips-off of movies or tv shows.

  • I guess you do not feel like playing nice with others today, eh Waldo?

    ? I think I’m doing just fine, Chris. This is one I’ve gotten a lot of e-mail about for the last week, two people insisting on showing me the video personally, and one other person ranting about it on the phone. Alumni all, they’re unanimous that it has the opposite of the desired effect—it makes them want to withhold money. As you can see from prior responses, I’m hardly alone in this.

  • spending money on ads like this asking for donations is kinda like asking your buddy for a $5 bill then wiping your arse with it in front of him. good work, UVA! fyi, the emails that accompany the videos are lame too.

  • WOW

    I think the one where the head slowly comes out from behind the trees, columns and PEOPLE is the creepiest.

    They need to pull these right away.

  • I don’t understand what’s driving everyone to be so outraged by these clips. They’re amateurish, certainly, but much less offensive than the typical “rah rah” BS that slick, cynical “advertising professionals” would have come up with.

    These are pretty harmless and silly but seem benign enough. I wouldn’t think any money was spent to produce these, so there’s no hint of wretched excess.

    No, they’re not to my taste, but I don’t begrudge the effort.

  • Is Jefferson having trouble with the office equipment because of his big head or because he’s from the 18th century? I don’t understand.

  • I don’t understand what’s driving everyone to be so outraged by these clips.

    I don’t know that “outrage” is quite the right word, Bill. It’s more a mixture of surprise and disappointment that seems proportional to one’s time as a student or alumni. I’m not an alumnus, just an employee and a local, but within even with that capacity, I just think that it’s unbecoming over the university to parody its legendary founder, particularly in such an unsuccessful fashion.

  • “I just think that it’s unbecoming over the university to parody its legendary founder, particularly in such an unsuccessful fashion.”

    Hey, maybe there are enough elementary-school-aged donors that they’re trying to target milk-money-fund managers with this cheap and cheerful “UVA-as-Disneyland” appeal.

    I guess I’m no longer surprised by their various lame shills. When it comes to promotion, UVA is its own worst enemy. Typically the fund-raising geniuses think one of the primary characteristics of donors is that they respond to being treated like unsophisticated sub-literate dullards. Lots of appeals to nostalgia with glossy pictures and saccharine, letter-spaced text.

    UVA promotes itself as though it were Buick.

    I’ve seen so many blunt instruments produced, almost always reverentially showing descended-as-if-from-heaven images of Jefferson, autumn foliage, rows of columns and well-funded professors that this one didn’t really register on my instruments.

    Here, they’re turning Jefferson into Goofy. That makes the Rotunda what?… Cinderella’s Castle? It’s all good. None of it matters, apparently. It really IS your father’s UVA.

  • Bill, I’m just sort of curious…is there anything UVA could put out that would inspire you to donate? The nostalgia appeals and glossy images of the campus seem like pretty typical development stuff.

    Like Waldo, I graduated from Tech, and it’s usually the nervous-sounding student on the phone who I always imagine is trying to earn money to buy books (or beer) who ultimately convinces me to make a donation. Their glossy magazines usually find a home on my end table until I ultimately spill something on them.

  • Megan… Great question.

    I’d say genuine need, presented in a truthful and unpretentious way would be compelling.

    The documents I’ve seen don’t lead me to perceive UVA to be a particularly needy cause, no matter how many pictures of Jefferson they show me. UVA tends to unnecessarily ‘laminate’ appeals with a bland hubris that prevents it from being convincing, setting off my BS detector. I’d take the big-head Jefferson clip over sniffy entitlement any day.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I’m a VCU alum who’s directed his share of UVA promotion materials, for example, and sometimes have been left no choice but to help them churn out this very kind of dreck we’re discussing. I do my best to urge a genuine appeal but often the die is cast before I’m even called in. Dig we must.

    On the other hand, I’ve been lucky often enough that I know UVA doesn’t have to embrace these overpriced, bland documents. We’ve gotten notably good results from pieces we’ve made that don’t pander to the dullards. There are some very talented people working within UVA that just need the right catalyst to change things. They could cut their costs and still get more convincing documents.

    There’s no secret to it.

  • I guess they’re going for something in the cheeky, irreverent vein, maybe not unlike the CavMan animated videos that they run before football and basketball games. I think some younger alums might like these just because they’re so bizarre. I can’t really see an older big-bucks donor, the kind of guy who wears the khaki pants with little embroidered ducks (or whatever) all over them, getting inspired by these videos. Possibly the opposite.

  • It’s like I’ve been rickrolled- and not in a good way

    I have the feeling this was done by students for students- but if that were true it’s hard to say why you would have George Micheal, Genesis (with Phil Collins), Duran Duran, And Loverboy as your soundtrack. Not an American group in the bunch. Let’s not even get into the quality of said groups nor the cheez factor they embody.

  • Irreverent, yes. But I’m also rather partial to the Burger King commercials with the King . . . and these Big-Head Jefferson spots tickle my funny bone in a good way.

    As a non-alum, non-employee, I might just be tempted to toss ’em a few bucks. They need to change their target audience. ;)

  • I saw the videos the other day and asked some alumni about them. Some people seem to adore those videos (except the last one, the creepy one). One explained that they were put together by the young alumni group. Perhaps we’re too old to “get” them.

    A guy I used to work for in Boston, who was considered a higher ed marketing guru (creator of Harvey Mudd’s “junk mail” and Rose Hulman’s “Ski Terre Haute” campaigns), used to say that some great campaigns are lost on parents, but are loved by the kids. Maybe this is one of those campaigns.

  • Maybe they could rent out the giant head for costume parties. That would generate some revenue.

  • It got me thinking about piñatas.

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