Saturday, February 27, 2010

How to Meet a Woman (Or at least a 500-pixel image of one)

Internet Marketing uses fantasy to sell the promise of a college degree

A gorgeous blonde in a tight blue sweater, peaking out from behind a tree in the quad. The same blonde, leaning against the Humanities building. Another blonde, this one slender, in the midst of a golden field of mustard flowers. A lovely dark-skinned woman, Latina perhaps, perhaps East Asian, leaning back in her tailored suit against the Business building. Take you back, college boys? Or, if you’re not a college boy, take you anywhere? Like, to what your imagination has told you college must be like?

Well, forget the fact that, for most of us anyway, college wasn’t anything like that, and just feast your eyes on these images, images from ads on the Internet, ads for colleges, yeah, online colleges. It’s like they’re saying, “Check it out, click this ad and get an online degree, and look at all these girls you’ll never, ever, ever get a chance to meet!

The ads from Argosy University, one of three institutions marketed by the Education Management Corporation of Pittsburgh, feature women who will attract the eyes of prospective male students, but are more likely intended to represent prospective female students: one exhibiting the attire and posture of a newly minted professional, the other embodying the freedom and happiness a college education can bring. Of course, whether intended for male prospects or not, the fact that these women are extremely attractive ensures that the males will certainly not be shooed away.

The University of Phoenix, one of five institutions marketed by the Apollo Group, Inc., of Phoenix, takes a somewhat similar approach, though here you have just a tinge of titillation. In the last ad shown, you have a lovely dark-haired girl in a business suit gazing with something between good cheer and adoration into the eyes of a young cohort. The prospective male applicant, the guy sitting in front of this ad with his hand poised on the mouse, is of course meant to see himself as the cohort, sitting happily across from this engaging beauty. All he needs to do now is somehow put out of his mind the pesky fact that it’s an online degree! (You can do it, man! Just click the damn ad! Click it! Click it!)

But, a web property of EducationDynamics of Hoboken, NJ, has to be, of all those represented, the least burdened by scruples. Here we have the absolutely scintillating blonde, peaking out, leaning back, blue eyes aglow, light blue sweater taught around her. She’s definitely the star of these ads, but occasionally you’ll see another, like this smiling—some might say, rockin’—headphone-wearing youth, who can be meant to represent nothing other than a prospective fellow student at the college of your choice. Once again, bust out the hammer, ‘cause someone's gonna need a knock over the head: It’s an online degree, man!
Anyway, good fun as it is wagging my finger, I’m also quick to give a tip o’ the hat, and this one is earned by Kaplan University, the educational institution of Kaplan Inc. of New York. This ad features a character this despicable, middle-aged blogger can relate to. Fair warning, though: Some people just might be too cool for school.