Six-word campaign creates instant authors

Launched in October 2008, McGill’s innovative six-word campaign took its inspiration from Ernest Hemingway’s poignant short story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The campaign, a joint effort by the Public Affairs and Development & Alumni Relations departments, featured the stories of six of McGill’s outstanding innovators – in six words each. The website ( has spurred some 1,600 alumni and friends to become instant authors by posting their own six-word stories on the sight.

As with all creative endeavors, the sky’s the limit stylistically.

Stories can be powerfully personal (Rwanda survivor becomes human rights warrior – Eloge Butera); they can be funny (Brilliant schizophrenic. Harsh world. Spare change? – Jake Brennan); they can be practical suggestions to the administration (Library hours: please make them longer – Heather Kim); or completely enigmatic (Kitten man wears a purple cape – Sarah Wilson). The only rule is that each submission total six words, no more, no less (a guideline that prompted another contributor, James Martin, to post “I’m good at math,” tongue planted firmly in cheek).

Earlier this year, the six-word campaign won a pair of Gold Medals from the CCAE (Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education) for Best Print Advertising Campaign and Best Program, Alumni Relations.

The people at DAR and the Campus Community Committee are hoping to build on this success by inviting staff members to submit their six-word stories to the website above. The best entries and profiles of the authors will appear in future issues of the McGill Reporter.