University Of The West Indies Installs Video Advertising System, Allows Commercials Directed At Students – Good Idea or Bad?

Can’t Even Pee In Peace…

When Shona and I were visiting relatives in New York City this past summer, we took everyone out for an Italian veal dinner at a little out of the way place that has been a family favourite for a decade. Gino’s Kitchen is by no means “upscale” but the food is sooooo good that they could charge double if they would just paint the place.

But nothing really changes at Gino’s and that suits us just fine. The tablecloths might be faded, but they don’t get replaced until they are worn through.

So you can imagine my confusion when I headed for the loo and found a video screen above each urinal – broadcasting commercials for beer, chewing gum and Chevrolet automobiles. As I stood there doing my business, I found myself getting angry. You can’t even get away from it in the washroom. BUY! BUY! BUY!

Later in the week I was filling up the rental car and I was assaulted by a video at the gas pump. Even the receipt from the cashier had advertising on it. BUY! BUY! BUY!

Can’t even hear yourself think sometimes. Billboards, more commercials than music on the radio, television ads that seem to be 50% of all programming. BUY! BUY! BUY!

Captive Students A Great Audience For Television Commercials

And now the University of the West Indies is installing a video-advertising system at their Cave Hill campus. Oh… they don’t call it a “video advertising system”, it’s a “communication system” that will be used “to allow direct and speedy communication with all constituents of the campus, but mainly the students” according to the Barbados Advocate.

According to the newspaper article, the communication system – including a large 10 x 21 foot scoreboard – is being “donated” by ACR Technology Inc..

“Donated” – as in “out of the goodness of their heart.” Wow… that’s great!

Just one little thing – tucked away so deeply in the article that most folks will probably miss it…

“The board … will also be used by companies to advertise, and …. this can be used during down time on the campus to also generate additional revenue.”

As we always say, folks… Ain’t nothin’ be free!

But I guess the people in charge have looked at it and decided that the benefits outweigh the commercial intrusion into the academic environment and culture.

From The Barbados Advocate…

COME next year, just in time for Cricket World Cup, the 3W’s Oval at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus will have a new state-of-the-art video and score board on its grounds.
This ten feet high by 21 feet wide board, says University of the West Indies officials is a part of a $600 000 communication system which will feature smaller electronic boards which will be positioned across the campus to allow direct and speedy communication with all constituents of the campus, but mainly the students. The donation is being made by ACR Technology Inc.

Speaking at a press conference and signing ceremony between the University and ACR Technology, Deputy Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, Professor Leo Moseley said that the agreement has been several months in the works, as they had to go through quite complicated negotiations to ensure that neither the University nor ACR Technologies Inc. would be embarking on anything that would lead to surprises down the line…

… read the entire article at the Barbados Advocate (link here).


Filed under Barbados, Culture & Race Issues, Island Life

12 responses to “University Of The West Indies Installs Video Advertising System, Allows Commercials Directed At Students – Good Idea or Bad?

  1. akabozzik

    sitting on the beach
    the waves make their shooshing sound
    stars in the sky
    time to think
    I am at peace


  2. Wanderer

    What is the issue here? Honestly? Are you all a bunch of socialist hippies?

  3. BFP

    Perhaps the issue is one of academic purity. Of an institution of higher learning being an oasis from the din of commercialism and marketing that now infests every other area of society.

    As far as us being a bunch of socialist hippies, I would refer you to an earlier post about unwed mothers…

  4. God Bless David

    Don’t buy the academic purity thing, in 2006/7!!! All you guys who were bigging up Hillary Beckles on previous threads should know that at “his” campus, the bottom line is the bottom line…and that’s the bottom line…


    Well the money for all those pretty new buildings had to come from some where. And people, all those business places are lining up to give money. You thought it just to keep Hilary from writing about them. Think what a great market it is, intelligent, headed for good jobs, high salaries. Just right for computers, credit cards, you name. Capitalism at work.

  6. Jerome Hinds

    Well the call is either for continued state funding for barbadian students at UWI or let each student finance their own education. So if the campus authorities and students can come up with innovative ways to offset their expenses – let’s wait and see how things go. Remember friends this is the age of the ‘digital divide’ those of us who will survive in this highly fast pace technological era – are the ones who are prepared stay ahead ! I guess this new innovation is viewed by the Professor (Hilary) and his followers as one of the ways of doing so!!!! We shall see………

  7. I remember a similar situation when I was at university overseas; the university admin wanted to introduce video terminals with advertising in most of the major indoor public spaces on campus, as well as advertisting billboards/posters in bathroom stalls. The student body protested this invasion of commercialism and consumerism into the academic space, but the plan went ahead anyway because it was, I assume a major income earner for the university.

    Sort of incidentally, but maybe not, in the debate on the issue some student activists made the point that educational institutions need to be careful who they get into bed with (so to speak) for money and how, because it’s not unheard of for a major corporate sponsor/advertiser to begin to exert a subtle or not-so-subtle influence on academic curricula. There are some interesting examples in Naomi Klein’s book “NO LOGO”.

  8. “What is the issue here? Honestly? Are you all a bunch of socialist hippies?”. That got me laughing haha.

    Reminds me of a friend i had who would do reviews on hip-hop albums for this website, he would play a cd all day long listening for the slightest hint that any of the lyrics were directed at someone, and then start up some controversial arguments over it

    BFP is exactly that, sitting and reading for the slightest “subliminal” message so they could have something to post about here. Who knows the boards might actually show some
    useful commercials to the students

  9. BFP

    Hi DA

    Of course the boards will provide a useful means of campus wide communication between the administration, staff and students…

    … but what are “useful” commercials?

    It sounds like THEY have your brain, friend!

  10. BFP

    Perhaps some of our “controversial arguments” might be seen as “useful” by some?


    Have your coffee this morning, DA. Mine’s great!

  11. God Bless David

    I’m sure they’ll push a few safe sex and anti drink & drive messages on the boards…can’t be all bad, considering the audience.

  12. Wry Mongoose

    Digital signage is becoming more prevalent in a variety of settings overseas – and only differs from its ‘dead-tree’ equivalent by being more flexibile and impactful.

    The larger issue is whether advertising on the whole, is out of place in universities (and schools).

    If attracting revenue is the real objective, UWI should be lobbying government and the local banking fraternity to provide RESP (Registered Educational Saving Plans). Similar to the already instituted RRSPs, these plans would allow Bajans to save for their children’s (or their own) education, while reducing their taxes.

    With such a regime in place, intoducing tuition at a more realistic level might be palatable … and the usual bassa-bassa pre-empted.

    A secondary benefit would be the potential to use the RESP funds for education at overseas institutions … to pursue subjects not offered by UWI, or for those wishing a more international academic experience.