'Worst ad ever': Swiss uni ETH under fire over promotional rap video

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'Worst ad ever': Swiss uni ETH under fire over promotional rap video
"Welcome to Zurich city of opportunities/We love freedom as much as we do cheese." Image: ETX Zurich

Switzerland’s ETH university is one of the world's top academic institutions but a new promotional video featuring rapping students is getting attention for all the wrong reasons.


Recently, ETH, which boasts Albert Einstein amongst its alumni, took 11th spot in the prestigious recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

All the universities above it were in the UK and the US.

But a new ETH video designed to attract students to its Master’s programs does not appearing to be adding much shine to the university’s reputation.

The unusual video features three rapping students, plenty of real-life science projects and all sorts of positive messages about both Zurich and ETH.

Here’s how it begins: “Welcome to Zurich city of opportunities/We love freedom as much as we do cheese.”

It also includes the rhyme: “Dance on the Rector’s table like a particle in CERN/just two hours away if you make your tyres burn”.

If it all sounds a bit ridiculous, it’s supposed to be.

“We wanted a video that would stand out, entertain and yet convey plenty of content,” ETH’s head of corporate communications, Rainer Borer, said in a statement put out by the university.

The student union (VSETH) has backed the video with union president Lewin Könemann telling the Tages Anzeiger that while it was full of clichés it was also funny and ironic.

But elsewhere, the video’s reception has been decidedly mixed, especially given the university recently announcement it would be gradually increasing fees by 500 Swiss francs a year from the current level of 1160 francs a year.

“Thank you, ETH. For nothing. And for wasting our increased tuition fees,” user Sev 3000 commented on YouTube.

“Geez I pay semester bills for this bs? Thx for increasing the costs for students and wasting our money like this,” was the comment from Karl Haumichweg.

The university isn’t scoring any points for taste either. One student posted the video in the ‘Cringe’ section of the social news aggregation website Reddit with the tagline “My uni just made the worst ad imaginable.”

It remains to be seen, though, whether this video will fall into the “so bad it’s good” category and end up being a cunning ploy by the PR team at ETH.

As one YouTube viewer commented: “so cringe it actually could go viral ;)”

Meanwhile, Borer from ETH’s communications team has continued to defend the video, which had a total cost of 160,000 Swiss francs.

“There has been a lot of support alongside the negative comments,” he said.

He added the video wouldn’t be taken down but reactions would be analysed carefully. It has clocked up over 100,000 views on YouTube to date.


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