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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Campus Center Lights Up the Small Screen

President Jack Wilson hams it up for the new UMass ad.
K. DeOliveira
President Jack Wilson hams it up for the new UMass ad.

It is not the University of Massachusetts’ flagship campus, but its flagship $75 million dollar building that is at the center of new commercials filmed for the university system. UMass Boston’s own Campus Center is the primary location on which Element Productions shot television advertisements for UMass that, according to the president’s office, will air in Boston and Springfield markets from April 11 through mid-May.

“Certainly we want to highlight the campus center every chance we get,” says William H. Wright, director of public information for the president’s office, of the decision to target the barely one year old building in the ads.

“It is such a compelling, impressive building,” says university spokesperson Robert Connelly. “It symbolizes what’s new and exciting about the University of Massachusetts,” he continues.The two-day UMB leg of the shoot took place the Friday before and the Monday of Spring Break.

Other locations included in the footage include Randolph’s Stacy’s Pita Chips and Monster.com headquarters in Maynard, companies both headed by graduates of UMass Amherst.

UMass President Jack Wilson, whose formal installation into office is scheduled to take place in May, was one of a host of Massachusetts and UMass related personnel on campus giving face time to the ad.According to the president’s office that list included Boston native and UMB alum fashion designer Joseph Abboud and fellow UMB grad Thomas Jefferson University Hospital resident Chukwuka Okafor, as well as former General Electric CEO Jack Welch.

Current UMass Boston students were also encouraged to join students and representatives from the other four campuses within the university system as part of the production. Jain Ruvidich-Higgins, interim director of Student Life, says that the production called for between 20 and 40 UMB students to participate.

Ruvidich-Higgins says that upon learning of the shoot only a couple of days before it was to take place, Student Life sent emails encouraging participation to a number of groups on campus including student clubs and organizations, student government, and the honors program.She adds that student response to appearing in the spot was far greater than that which she generally receives for other projects.

“One of the things I was pleased to see is that we had a wide range of students respond,” says Ruvidich-Higgins, continuing that the represented range in age, gender, and culture of students appearing were reflective of the value of diversity and access that remains at the core of UMass Boston.

Allison Duffy, director of special events for UMass Boston, says that approximately 20 UMB students participated in the casting call, however, how many of that number make it through the editing process remains to be determined.

According to Connelly the university does not hire actors to pose as students for its commercials.Eran Lobel, executive producer for Element Productions and one of a handful of their staff holding degrees from the UMass system says of the shoot, “UMass was very accommodating, it went very well.”The UMass Foundation, a private non-profit organization that handles endowments to the university, funded the two-day shoot. As a result of private funding the cost of production is not made public.

Element Productions has produced a number of commercials for clients such as Fidelity Investments and Dunkin Donuts. It has also filmed public service announcements, and recently shot a Jimmy Fund television show featuring Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and sportswriter and Boston-area mainstay Peter Gammons.