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Updated 11:00 AM September 27, 2004




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New PSA puts The Michigan Difference into orbit

View the PSA>

A new University public service announcement (PSA) has a look that is sharp, modern and—you might say—out of this world.

The PSA began appearing during ABC, NBC and ESPN broadcasts of U-M football games in early September. It features the Apollo 15 space capsule orbiting the Earth while "The Victors" plays in the background.

The Apollo 15 mission featured an all-U-M crew of Col. David Scott (ScD hon. '71), Maj. Alfred Worden (MSE '63, ScD hon. '71) and Col. James Irwin (MSE '57, ScD hon. '71). In the PSA, their names are displayed on the screen before the capsule comes into view.

"Our students move on, but the spirit stays with them," a voice says as the capsule floats off-screen during the 30-second spot. It concludes with a maize block "M" on the screen with "The Michigan Difference" displayed underneath the logo.

It will continue to run during basketball broadcasts in the winter.

"The response has been overwhelmingly positive," says Brett Ashley, Marketing Communications director. She notes that the PSA does not follow typical university ads featuring overhead campus shots and professors in lab coats. "With the block 'M' and 'Hail to the Victors,' people know who we are," she says.

Ashley says one corporate recruiter told her it was "unique in this world of university ads."

Bruce Madej, assistant athletic director for media relations in the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, says the University's television contracts with the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Big Ten Conference allow airtime for U-M to promote institutional messages.

Ashley says some alumni saw the University's old PSAs during January's Rose Bowl broadcast and commented that they were beginning to look out-of-date.

"It was time," Ashley says. "I absolutely loved (the new PSA) when I saw it on the storyboards. It is timeless, generates pride in 'The Michigan Difference,' and captures the special qualities the University has that make it a great institution."

Vice President for Communications Lisa Rudgers assembled a group of campus administrators that collaborated with the Detroit office of global marketing and communications firm Young and Rubicam to secure the concept. Ashley says the firm donated its services to the University, so U-M paid only final production costs.

U-M utilized focus groups of recent and older alumni, as well as current students in the process.

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