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A scene from the inspirational television advertisement. A scene from the inspirational television advertisement. Featured
17 October 2015 Posted by 


Television commercial steals the show

WESTERN Sydney University’s $30 million rebrand has been criticised by some students, but its inspirational launch TV advertisement “went viral”, kicking-off efforts to increase its brand’s global awareness.

The rebranding, over three years, includes an extensive media advertising campaign, a change from the name “University of Western Sydney” and replacement of the ‘blue bird’ logo with a bold white ‘W’ on a red shield.

“With a bold new vision and brand positioning, we are reaffirming our place as a world-class university with international reach, a reputation for academic excellence, and a track record in delivering impact-driven research,” Western Sydney University’s website declares.

But stealing the show so far has been an inspirational TV commercial telling the story of alumnus Deng Thiak Adut from boy soldier in war-torn Sudan to Bachelor of Laws graduate and practising Blacktown solicitor.

The advertisement has been posted on youtube and other video sharing sites with 500,000 views since it began airing on Australian television networks at the beginning of September, extending its reach globally.

Communications Expert, George Kolovos, who has created television commercials for major brands, including Disney, Nestle, Hungry Jacks, Shazam and Woolworths, says the Adut TV commercial is “what a perfect storm looks like in the communication landscape”.

“Drama, Tragedy, Inspiration, Hope and Triumph in a single story which is being (regrettably) retold in many countries among millions of people,” Kolovos said.

“Story telling in video is powerful, especially when the story is a script very few writers could ever imagine writing let alone suffering first hand.

“Deng Adut is making a difference as is Western Sydney University – it’s a story worth retelling for sure.”

Western Sydney University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Barney Glover, said the public's response to Adut’s inspirational story showed what extraordinary contributions can be made to society if those escaping conflict and civil unrest were given the chance to start a new life.

"Deng's story is a shining example of the transformational power of education and the enriching flow-on effects not only for individuals, but for their families and our community," Professor Glover said.

The video condenses Adut’s lifelong experiences overcoming adversity into 90 seconds, starting from the mid-1980s, when the Sudanese government began destroying villages, the catalyst for the rise of the People's Liberation Army.

Not long after, six-year old Deng Thiak Adut was taken away from his family's banana farm in South Sudan and conscripted into the Army, undergoing military training, several years of army service and witnessing numerous atrocities.

Deng was still a boy when he was shot in the back while running through a village. A chance meeting reunited him with his brother, who helped smuggle him out of the country in a corn sack on the back of a truck. The brothers befriended an Australian family and eventually arrived as refugees in 1998.

Working at a local service station to learn English, Adut enrolled at TAFE and completed his Advanced Diploma in Accounting before deciding to study law.
In 2005 he enrolled in a Bachelor of Laws at Western Sydney University and became the first person in his family to graduate with a law degree.

Adut now works as a lawyer in Bankstown, where he is determined to ensure that other Sudanese refugees have the legal advice and support they need before entering the court system.

His story clearly impressed the university’s Board of Trustees, but what may have shocked them most was the revelation that while studying to complete his degree, “he chose to live in his car”.

“The board was provided with a presentation on the successful launch of the rebrand at Open Day,” the Vice-Chancellor’s Report at the Board’s September 9th meeting notes.

“In particular the Board noted the story of Deng Thiak Adut featured in the campaign and agreed to set up a scholarship fund for students from refugee backgrounds to assist with living expenses.”

The following day, Western Sydney University announced a half-million dollar scholarship fund to assist refugees on humanitarian visa undertaking further education, with plans to raise a total of $12 million through a fundraising campaign to assist 400 students over the next four years.

The scholarships, valued at $7500 per year, will be used for study and living expenses and will be available to students studying across the full range of courses offered by Western Sydney University.

Not everyone is thrilled about the University’s image makeover, including students who are unhappy they weren’t consulted in its preliminary stages, with more than 2,500 adding their name to the “#SavetheBird - Don't Rebrand UWS” online petition.

“We love our University, but as students of UWS we are outraged that we were not consulted about changes to the branding of the University,” the petition reads.

“We call upon the University of Western Sydney to abandon its proposed rebranding, and to keep the current name - University of Western Sydney, and to scrap the hideous proposed design for the University logo.”

You can find Western Sydney University’s Unlimited microsite at: http://www.westernsydney.edu.au/unlimited/home


Publisher and editor, Michael Walls.
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