McGill in six words? Sounds impossible

By Allison Flynn

Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His answer, what he referred to as the best story he ever wrote, was: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”  This very economical story format is the basis of McGill’s newly launched, multi-media ad campaign.

Created in conjunction with Ogilvy Montreal, the “McGill in Six Words” campaign features six-word stories about six of McGill’s outstanding professors and students. Its objective is to raise awareness of what McGill is about today, particularly in the Toronto community, home to many McGill students, prospective students, business leaders and alums. One ad, “Hot on trail of global warming,” showcases Parisa Ariya, Associate Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Chemistry, and how she pioneered Quebec’s first atmospheric chemistry lab. Another ad, “Soccer Captain. Future captain of industry,” profiles Gabriel Gervais, an MBA student at the Desautels Faculty of Management and assistant captain of the Montreal Impact soccer team.

“McGill is an incredibly vibrant community, made up of accomplished people who have fascinating stories to tell,” said Susan Murley, Director of Strategic Communications. “The campaign aims to show that in a dynamic and innovative way.”

The media roll-out included newspaper and web banner ads targeting readers of The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s and the Toronto Star, one mural (located downtown near bustling King and John Sts.) and eye-catching night projections on buildings like the Air Canada Centre, the Westin Harbour Castle and City Hall. The profiles of the featured McGillians are hosted on a microsite that also encourages visitors to post their own six-word stories.

While the ads have caught the attention of the press that cover advertising and marketing – articles about the campaign have appeared in Marketing Magazine, Infopresse and Metro Toronto – their impact can best be gauged by nearly 12,000 unique visitors to the microsite and more than 36,000 page views. And more than 500 compelling six-word stories have been posted to the site’s “wall.” To tell your own six-word story, visit

An image of Professor Antonia Maioni is projected on a building in Toronto as part of the McGill in Six Words campaign.
An image of Professor Antonia Maioni is projected on a building in Toronto as part of the McGill in Six Words campaign.