News | McGill caters to Quebec students in advertising

Francophone television commercial a “major success”

Correction appended October 15, 2012.

As universities across the province continue to search for sources of additional funding, students from Quebec are increasingly becoming the target of university advertising campaigns.

Universities in Quebec receive their funding based on the number of enrolled students. McGill receives $2,421.90 per student, regardless of whether the student is a Quebec resident, a non-Quebec Canadian, or an international student. The remainder of the tuition goes to the government.

But for Quebec students, McGill receives an additional grant on top of the original $2,421.90.

According to McGill Director of Internal Communications Doug Sweet, “After the government has clawed back some of the per-student grant for the Quebec loans and bursaries program, we get a bit less than $8,000 per undergrad, on average, plus Quebec tuition.”

“This is a very broad number that shouldn’t be considered exact,” he added.

The University spent $2.318 million on advertising between 2009 and 2010 and $2.322 million from 2010 to 2011, according to the Office of the Vice-Principal of Administration and Finance.

One of the University’s most significant advertising efforts was a thirty-second commercial that aired in the previous two years on primetime francophone television. Sweet described the initiative as a “major success.”

“[The commercial] cost us less than an average of $300 per spot, much of which was on prime-time shows such as Tout le monde en parle,” Sweet told The Daily. “This is remarkably good value for the money we spent, which was about $200,000 per year in the media buy, plus an average of a bit more than $40,000 per year in creative costs.”

Sweet added that as far as he could remember, the commercial was the first television ad McGill had run.

The Université de Montréal – the most prolific spender in Quebec – allocated roughly $3.9 million to its advertising budget from 2009 to 2010, according to the Ministry of Education.

Together, Quebec universities have spent approximately $80 million in the past five years, a 19 per cent increase, according to La Presse.

In March, Fédération étudiante universitaire du Quebec (FEUQ) President Martine Desjardins criticized promotional spending.

“It’s gotten out of hand,” she told La Presse in French. “Universities are fighting one another only to get more money from [the government].”

Determining a single number for McGill’s advertising costs is complicated. Every faculty at McGill conducts its own advertising, and the sum total is calculated by the Office of the Vice-Principal of Administration and Finance.

The advertising budget for 2011-2012 has not yet been released, but Sweet expects that it will be less than in previous years.

“Universities compete,” said Sweet. “They compete for the best students, the best professors, donors, and leaders. They need to be visible.”


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