ASU plan to install large ads downtown garners mixed reactions

Banners more than 100 feet tall and full-length window displays will grace University buildings in downtown Phoenix as a new marketing tactic.

The University is planning to add large banners and window displays that will hopefully entice more students to attend ASU to several of the Downtown campus' buildings. The "Learn to Thrive" banner will be one of ten advertisements placed throughout the area.

Mark Johnson, the senior director for ASU media relations, wrote in an email that the signage shows ASU's focus elevating the quality of the Phoenix experience for students, faculty and residents.

"The tasteful and functional signage helps guide students and visitors alike in a dense and vibrant downtown," Johnson wrote. 

ASU Sign Plan for Downtown by Allie Bice

The purpose of the signs is also to revitalize the Phoenix area as an educational destination and highlight ASU's achievements, according to the University marketing proposal.

The advertisements will look similar to the "Learn to Thrive" banner — all-encompassing silhouettes, sunsets and motion to trigger positive feelings, according to the proposal.

Despite the University's attempt to spotlight its achievements, ASU students and residents of Phoenix have expressed concern about the ads.

During a hearing in mid-September, Chair of the Downtown Voices Coalition Tim Eigo said he was unsure about ASU's plan to place massive window displays in the buildings. Eigo said his group fears the advertisements would encourage other business owners to market in the same way.

Eigo said the full-length window displays achieve the opposite effect ASU is hoping for by bringing a sense of stillness to the buildings instead of vibrancy.

ASU has made amendments to their sign plan and has agreed to change the dimensions of the window displays.

"It's all going to work out," Eigo said. "I just hope we all learn from this."

The dimensions of the banners and window displays may have changed, but some ASU students are still questioning the University's marketing.

Journalism senior Emily Nicholson said the banners and displays will get attention, but she is concerned that they would cost an excessive amount of money to maintain. 

"As for advertising, it seems like so much time, effort and money," Nicholson said. "I think it'd be more cost effective to launch a social media campaign."

Student reactions aside, the Undergraduate Student Government Downtown said it supports the advertisements in a recent press release because they will help identify the University Center as an ASU building.

"(The banners and window displays) will help current students feel at home and prospective students feel more attached to this campus rather than feel like it is simply a satellite of the Tempe campus," according to the statement.

Reach the reporter at or follow @alliebice on Twitter.

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