Saturday was a rare gorgeous, summery day toward the end of October. We headed to Evanston to take our out-of-town guests to Blind Faith Cafe for lunch, then a walk up the lakefront, watching the boaters drag their catamarans onto land. Approaching the campus of Northwestern University up Sheridan Road from the south, we came to a solid and familiar red brick building.
"That's Fisk Hall, or was, when I went to school," I began, correcting myself, an essential quality in journalism. Looked closer at the building. Now named for a McCormick, in deference to the waves of Trib money crashing over the school. "The Medill School of Journalism," I continued, then realized that too had been changed. Now the "Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications," a name instantly despised and ridiculed by alumni, and not just for the missing ampersand before the final buzz phrase that must have had currency at one point, "Integrated Marketing Communications." What even is that? A racially mixed group of marketing communicators? A well-coordinated PR campaign, so some other noble idea rendered in an awkward phrase, a bad idea come to life, maintained for the very Tribunish notion that bad ideas are to be neither admitted nor corrected.
Not that the current name came to me — who could easily remember that mouthful? And the sign was no help. I looked, but a solid hedge neatly obscured the offending language from passersby. I laughed out loud to see it. You'd like to think it was intentional, but that would have shown far more dash and creativity than a stodgy old shop like NU would be capable of. Just another inadvertent error easier to ignore than remedy.
There’s a program on WBEZ at 6:30 a.m on Saturdays, that I discovered not long ago. It’s called “Under the Influence” and the host Terry O’Reilly discusses advertising and marketing with examples of pure genius and others of stultifying bluster. Informative and deliciously entertaining. I think “Integrated Marketing Communications” would qualify as an example of stultification.ReplyDelete