Animated spot looks forward, reflects on why UW-Madison matters

Aug. 28, 2014

by Preston Schmitt

While there’s a break in action during the next Wisconsin football broadcast, UW-Madison will take 30 seconds to turn its eyes forward — emphasizing that the university serves not only to improve lives today, but also to move society toward a better future.

The new institutional spot, titled “Reality Forward,” will air nationally Saturday on ESPN and run during other UW sporting events throughout the academic year.

“Badgers understand that no matter how great our achievements, what we're doing is moving reality forward to better places,” the creative concept for the spot reads. “We're always one step ahead, tackling the challenges of the future that have the most meaning for people today.”

The spot features a fully animated narration set in the year 2050. A young girl leads viewers through a visual tour featuring a highly populated city existing harmoniously with nature, a farm sustainably producing fresh food, and her aging yet healthy parents. “Can you imagine?” she concludes.

“We’re really exploring the idea that the UW is actively solving not just the problems today, but trying to answer the questions that haven’t even been asked yet.”

Tricia Dickinson

Implicit in the narration is the university’s role in helping turn those hypotheticals into realities: its state-of-the-art research and education on population growth, public health, conservation, sustainability, urban planning and much more.

“We’re trying to (demonstrate) why the University of Wisconsin-Madison matters,” says Tricia Dickinson, director of University Marketing. “We’re really exploring the idea that the UW is actively solving not just the problems today, but trying to answer the questions that haven’t even been asked yet.”

“Reality Forward” is a concerted pivot from last year’s spot — “Keep On,” an energetic, fast-pace collaboration of campus shots on par with the intensity of college athletics. Instead, the new spot beckons back to earlier ones that were equally contemplative in tone — including the 2012 “See the Right Thing” spot, which shares the same background music as “Reality Forward.”

The university again collaborated with The Hiebing Group, a Madison-based communications firm, to create the new spot. Together, they produced a message designed to resonate with alumni, prospective students and whoever else may be watching: The UW matters.

“We’re trying to get ahead of things, especially in terms of our teaching, our research and our students,” Dickinson says. “(We’re asking), ‘What can we imagine the future will be like, and how can we address some of those questions before they even become problems?’”