Hoping to emphasize what it considers a world-class reputation,
the University has developed a new commercial that is airing this
year during the halftime break of college football and basketball

The school decided to take on the project of developing a new
commercial after several alumni complained about the old public
service announcement.

“PSAs usually have about a three- to four-year life span
before they become outdated,” University Marketing
Communications Director Brett Ashley said. “It’s been
about four or five years since we’ve made the last one, so we
thought it was time.”

Part of the initiative for the new commercial resulted from
criticism of the former advertisement.

University President Mary Sue Coleman said she received several
e-mails from alumni asking her to “do something” about
the ad.

After viewing the older version for the first time this past
year, Coleman agreed that a more modern announcement should be

“It’s what people expect at Michigan,” she

The new ad begins with a shot of Earth from outer space, and the
names of astronauts Col. David Scott, Maj. Alfred Worden and Col.
James Irwin appear on the screen. These names are followed by the
words “Apollo 15: An all U of M crew,” referring to the
University alumni who made up the entire crew of NASA’s 1971
mission to the moon.

Then, “The Victors” plays in the background,
followed by the spoken message, “Our students move on, but
our spirits stay with them.”

Ashley said when administrators decided to make the new
commercial, they formed a team of about 60 faculty members to
decide on the content and hired Young and Rubicam, an advertising
agency in Detroit, to provide creative input. They watched
commercials from other Big Ten schools to decide what they wanted
or did not want to include in the advertisement.

“All the other schools’ PSAs are really
similar,” Ashley said. “Our old one was more robust,
but it still had the typical beautiful fall day with lots of shots
of teaching and learning on campus.”

The team also thought of which aspects of the University should
be highlighted in the advertisement, eventually deciding to
showcase the accomplishments of its graduates.

“We thought of which audience was most important, and we
decided to include the alumni,” she said. “We thought
that including the astronauts’ names would send a great
message out. … We really wanted to show the Michigan
difference: the global impact of the University. It is the
possibilities the University has on its students, and the impact
those students have on the world.”

Young and Rubicam Vice President Susan Bernardi, manager of the
project, agreed that the audience was a crucial aspect to take into
account in the making of the advertisement.

“We really tried to look at how the demographic felt about
the University,” she said. “We found that it really
wanted to reaffirm the school’s affluence and

Bruce Madej, assistant director of athletics, was selected as a
part of the committee since the commercial is being aired during
sporting events. He had also been working at the University during
the making of the past two advertisements.

“I tried to give input on how the other ones were put
together,” he said. “When we looked at the old ones, at
the time they were made, they were fine. But they were so overused,
that we knew changes needed to be made.”

The special effects of the advertisement were handled by Zoic
Studios, a production company in Los Angeles. This company found a
wire frame of the actual Apollo 15 rocket and replicated the
spacecraft in the advertisement.

Dan Willey, one of the designers at Young and Rubicam, said to
create the commercial they did not need to go to a film production

“We just went straight to Zoic because we were able to do
everything through computer graphics,” he said. “NASA
already has so many great pictures on the computer, so we were able
to use those pictures in the PSA.”

Madej said a lot of organization was required to show everything
the team wanted to get across about the University in the

“It’s really hard to put all the constituents of the
school in 30 seconds,” he said. “We tried to include
the idea that Michigan is a University that has class, integrity
and leadership, and we also wanted to expose all the intangibles
that make the University what we want it to be and what people have
told us it is — a great place.”

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