A Sobering Experience

St. John’s students and faculty participated in an advertising campaign last semester aimed at curbing underage drinking. The campaign, created by New York State’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), included 12 other colleges, the winning school having their campaign produced by the advertising agency Sawchuck Brown.

In addition, the winning school would have their campaign displayed on college campuses throughout New York.

The campaign brought together the collaboration of the students from the Department of Fine Arts in St. John’s College, and students from the Department of Mass Communications, Journalism, and TV and Film in the College of Professional Studies.

The University’s involvement in the campaign was spearheaded early last semester by Kathryn Hutchison, the executive director of Student Wellness. Hutchison, after being impressed by a Campus Ministry DVD at a new-employee orientation, entered St. John’s into the state-sponsored contest. However, Hutchison needed four professors who would pledge to incorporate the advertising campaign into their classes, which meant that they had to overhaul their syllabi just as classes were about to start.
One of the professors who volunteered to revamp their syllabus on such short notice in order to take part in the project was Aaris Sherin, an assistant professor in the Department of Fine Arts.

Sherin said the campaign was worth the overhaul.
“[The campaign] just seemed like a great opportunity to have the students get their work produced around campus,” she said.

Furthermore, Sherin-who oversaw the creation of the Web site in her web design classes-also said that the campaign was “a real world project that the students had to incorporate everything that they were given.” In her particular class, Sherin’s students had to devise a Web site that would attract college-age students. In the beginning of the semester, her students started to brainstorm ideas for the Web site that would attract the students’ peers. Sherin felt that the students were particularly at an advantage because they were, in effect, marketing to themselves. Sherin stated that she oversaw the Web site projects, but that the campaign gave the students a real world approach because it was no longer “just for a grade,” but for something bigger than a class.

Besides Sherin, participating professors were Dr. Elizabeth DeLuna of the Department of Fine Arts, Dr. Frank Brady, who is the chair of the Communications Department, Dr. Judith Cramer and Dr. Thomas McCarthy, associate professors in the department, and Dr. Alla Baeva and Dr. John Dimarco who are assistant professors.

The University’s marketing campaign included radio commercials, print ads, posters, billboard designs, t-shirts, water bottle labels, and the live, interactive Web site sober24-7.com.

The students picked the slogan “…24/7,” to appear in all of campaign elements. Some of the marketing taglines of the campaign were “sober…24/7,” “Designated Driver…24/7,” and “I am making smart decisions…24/7.”

“The students chose ’24/7′ because it is a simple, immediate and non-preachy slogan that everyone can understand,” McCarthy said.

Although St. John’s did not win the competition (SUNY Albany earned that honor), the remaining portion of the grant from OASAS will allow St. John’s to distribute their marketing campaign around the campus and the neighboring community.

A portion of the posters went up on Jan. 11. To celebrate the hard work done by the students, Hutchinson has planned a “no use party” on Jan. 19 that will include prizes, foods, and games.