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Looking Forward to Back-to-School College Marketing

Who can predict the future? We may not know exactly, but we can look at the evidence, consult an expert, and make a plan. Many brands are starting to think about back-to-school college campus marketing now. What is really going to be happening on campus?

Let’s take a look at how the pandemic changed Gen Z brand marketing this past year, and then, based on the evidence, predict what exciting opportunities will be available for brands who want to market at college campuses this fall.

College Marketing Plans in Spring 2020

At the beginning of last year, our team was running several large brand ambassador campaigns at multiple college campuses that featured event and brand ambassador marketing. One of the biggest campaigns was for First Aid Beauty. Their promotion was called FAB AID: a multi-faceted campaign that included paying off $1 million in student loan debt. Brand ambassadors were trained; a Good Morning America segment was planned, national events were booked in Sephora stores.

Then the pandemic hit. All events were cancelled. College campuses across the country began to close. Student brand ambassadors were unsure what to do. For a moment, we were all stunned.

Finding Success Amid Pandemic Panic

Even though the brands we worked with were very concerned about the health of their customers and brand ambassadors, they were understandably panicked.

The good news? They were working with Campus: an intrepid team that loves to solve challenges. And that is just what we did.

First, we took time to address our clients’ concerns. We made adjustments, encouraging our brands to go from marketing with the intent to sell to marketing with the intent to show support. Their new goal was to stay present and stay supportive. In short order, our team saw opportunities.

We saw solutions.

We saw a way forward.

This pivot was the beginning of our nano influencer strategy. Though we’ve always had brand ambassadors posting on social media, we quickly found a winning formula that worked beautifully during the pandemic.

Making Nano Influencer Campaigns Work

Brand ambassadors are skilled content creators for their own personal channels. They have a huge network of untapped resources: students that were waiting for good opportunities to work with brands online.

As an agency, we monitored the organic content that the brand ambassadors produced, and boosted the best-performing organic posts to the entire Campus community. This meant that the ads were coming from the students themselves, not the brands’ channels.

This shift had a notable impact. Because Gen Z students do not typically like to be ‘marketed to’, the peer-to-peer messaging was highly effective. The peer-generated posts had very good engagement and positive sentiment from consumers when compared with ads that came directly from a brand.

“We saw very positive upticks in social media engagement when our student influencer’s content was boosted to their campus community coming from their own account compared to our own channels” , said Caesarine Novello, Brand Marketing and Communications Manager at Vince Camuto, a Campus Agency client.

Could Experiential Marketing Be History?

With regard to impressions, a nano influencer campaign vastly outperforms face-to-face event marketing. If a brand wants to focus on brand awareness, a nano influencer campaign is highly effective.

Still, creating events and experiences at campuses is the gold standard. “Experiential marketing is always going to be king, because nothing beats being able to touch something, feel something, have a live conversation with someone in a really cool, unique way. When that opportunity comes back, nothing can replace that type of marketing. But in social media marketing, the use of nano influencer campaigns will continue to grow.”

In short, there is a place for all facets of youth marketing: nano influencer campaigns, brand ambassador campaigns, and experiential marketing.

Many brands are now grappling with how to go forward. Since Campus Agency has extensive experience and open communication with college campuses, what will the future look like this fall?

Back-to-school Marketing to Gen Z

We project that there will be some level of peer-to-peer marketing happening on campuses this fall. As the rate of vaccinated students continues to increase, the anticipation for person-to-person interaction to begin anew has never been higher. This will create opportunities for highly successful small-to-medium-sized brand ambassador campaigns, where students will interact with their peers and coordinate ambassador-led small events on campuses.

To that end, we encourage forward-thinking brands to get started on combining the effective elements of nano-influencer campaigns on social media with in-person interactions of brand ambassador campaigns.

Thinking Ahead and Thinking Bigger

Even still, we’re very excited about the return of experiential marketing. After more than a year of social distancing and isolation, students are craving social interaction and new experiences. With unprecedented enthusiasm, they will be ready to absorb new influences and try new things. Will your brand be ready to give those experiences to them?

Thinking of the overwhelming enthusiasm that students will have when experiential marketing events begin anew, Chris Nyland, COO, states, “There is a huge opportunity for brands to capitalize on the excitement in a responsible way. Students are going to be more receptive to marketing messaging now than they’ve ever been.”

Even with restrictions, we’re confident that events can still be planned – with safety protocols in place. (Restaurant takeovers and food truck events are good examples.) As a brand, you may be concerned about the uncertainties that come with planning an event during the end of a pandemic. That’s why working with a college marketing agency like Campus is a win-win. In every season, we’re problem solvers. In college marketing, there is continual red tape and we have a tradition of making what seems impossible happen.

The sudden changes brought on by the pandemic were just a new set of challenges. At Campus Agency, we’re always down for the challenge.

Are you ready to work with a team that’s battle tested for the unexpected? Reach out to us to talk about how to successfully plan your post-covid college marketing campaign.

Contact us.

Feature Image Source: Photo by Phillips Jacobe on Unsplash
Ambassador Programs Client Stories Events Experiential

Allo Messaging Meets Gen Z

When Google made their first foray into the group messaging app market with Allo, they knew that Gen Z would be the keystone of their consumer base. Allo’s competitors had a considerable market share among students who used group messaging apps to text their network of friends and communicate with fellow members of teams, clubs, and other organizations, and Google needed an eye-catching marketing strategy to entice students to switch their conversations to Allo. Enter The Campus Agency.

In the spring of 2017, The Campus Agency ran a test Allo campaign on our home turf in Boston. We organized Allo takeovers at Boston University and Northeastern University, working with 40 campus ambassadors to promote Allo to their fellow students. Enlisting some of Boston’s best-known food trucks, like Cookie Monstah and Boston Frosty, we gave away personalized sweets to students who downloaded Allo, with their Allo group names and photos mouth-wateringly rendered in icing and edible ink.

Our Boston campus takeover culminated in a one-of-a-kind concert by the chart-topping band Bleachers at Royale, one of the city’s most storied music venues. Free to any student who had downloaded Allo, the concert utilized Google’s latest technology to create free, personalized Allo merchandise for the 1200 lucky students admitted.

Energized by the success of our Boston event, Google enlisted The Campus Agency’s help to expand our Allo takeover to the 14 universities in the Big Ten Conference in the fall of 2017. With 20 ambassadors raising Allo’s profile on each campus, we curated our Allo campaign to match each school’s unique personality. At every Big Ten university, we released a branded pedicab onto the streets. Anyone who’d downloaded Allo was given a free ride in the pedicab to anywhere they pleased around campus, with our ambassadors explaining Allo’s unique features and distributing promotional materials along the ride. At student-frequented eateries around each campus, we purchased thousands of popular menu items for anyone who downloaded Allo, with ambassadors in each restaurant tabling for Allo during the promotion.

The Campus Agency made Allo’s Big Ten takeover a fixture of the conference’s sports calendar. Our Allo signage in stadiums and arenas reached tens of thousands of fans in the stands and millions more watching at home. On campus, our Allo tailgate parties, complete with branded cornhole games and catered food giveaways, became a nexus of school spirit each Saturday.

For each Allo campus takeover, we prioritized locally-minded engagement and student-driven experiences. At the University of Wisconsin, we staged an Allo tailgate party in partnership with the Phi Oompa Loompa fraternity, giving away free grilled cheeses from the x food truck. For students camping out to be first in line for season tickets at basketball-crazed Michigan State, Allo delivered free catered meals and blanketed campus dining trucks in branded signage.

The publicity generated by our Allo Big Ten campaign resulted in x downloads and x percent growth in brand awareness. We gave away x dollars of food, merchandise, and rides, and directly engaged x thousand students. In total, The Campus Agency’s Google Allo campaign created x million PR impressions.

Events Uncategorized

CollegeFest Travel Show 2017 Recap

On Saturday April 8, 2017 college students filtered through the doors of Boston University’s Fitness and Recreation center between 12-5pm to experience the inaugural CollegeFest Travel Show. The event was hosted by us here at The Campus Agency, owners and operators of CollegeFest, in partnership with StudentUniverse, the world’s leading travel booking service for students and youth.

In an effort to connect with aspiring study abroad students and future spring breakers, over 40 vendors attended the Travel Show for the opportunity to interact directly with students. At the show, students were able to learn about exclusive student travel deals, as well as information about study abroad, travel insurance, and which travel gear is best for their next adventure. By the end of the day, brands such as Delta and Virgin Atlantic, and many other airlines raffled off over $35,000 worth of travel giveaways, including roundtrip airline tickets. Other brands in attendance included Greyhound, Topdeck Tours, Liberty Travel, T-Mobile, CIEE and L.L. Bean.

CollegeFest Travel Show was not just travel brand exclusive. Top Boston radio stations, DJs, food trucks, and ice cream samples all kept students sticking around throughout the day. Students were not only able to get a taste for the world beyond Boston, but also got to experience some of the best things their home city has to offer.

While this was CollegeFest Travel Show’s first year, CollegeFest is a Boston institution. Entering  its 32nd year, CollegeFest is New England’s largest back to school event exclusively for college students. Each Fall, the free event attracts over 10,000 people to iconic Fenway Park. The 2017 event will take place on September 16th.

Thanks to CollegeFest and StudentUniverse, many students will now have the opportunity to travel the world, and do so in style. Stay tuned for more information on CollegeFest!

Brand Activations Client Stories Events Experiential

Going BIG With Nordstrom

Before working with Campus, Nordstrom had a college conundrum. On the whole, their brand was thriving, opening destination stores, showing collections at high-profile fashion weeks worldwide, and commanding enviable levels of brand recognition. Yet, they struggled to entice students to their stores. Nordstrom, to Gen Z, seemed to be a place their parents would shop, a place that sold clothes and accessories that they wouldn’t afford on a college budget.

So, with Campus’ help, Nordstrom decided to step into the GenZ space and really speak their language. Working with on-campus ambassadors and using pinpointed media buys, our team staged a college rivalry competition at schools across the country. The campaign highlighted the range and affordability of Nordstrom’s shoe collection, conceived to “help every student take their next best step in life with style.”

To demonstrate their investment in students and drive campaign participation Nordstrom pledged a custom Nordstrom Shoe Party to that the campus that generated the most engagement during the campaign. They also promised $100 credit for new graduation shoes to all the winning school’s seniors. With supermodel Karlie Kloss emceeing the event and promoting the brand on social, Nordstrom’s Snapchat following increased by over 60%, and the event’s Snap filter garnered nearly 7 million views.

By getting faculty, staff and even their university President involved, students at the University of South Carolina blitzed the rivalry competition and were crowned the winning school. The event was envisioned as a dream Nordstrom store landscape, decked out with a custom handbag creation station, a chair massage area, and a catwalk where students (attendees? participants?) showcased their favorite new fashion. Students received free mani/pedis and clamored for photo ops with Karlie Kloss and Cocky the Gamecock.

Nordstrom also gifted $100 vouchers to over 2,000 graduating seniors from USC.

The publicity generated by the campaign drove over 300 million PR impressions. The breakdown of the numbers speaks for itself: 3.2 million views for the Nordstrom digital ad, 235k Snapchat filter uses, and press coverage from nearly a dozen national outlets, including Anderson Cooper, People Magazine, and US Weekly.

Spring Break Uncategorized

Spring Break 2016 Marketing: Panama City Beach

Spring Break 2016 is just around the corner, and Spring Break marketing efforts are on our minds here at Campus. Marketing in the most popular Spring Break locations is the best way to reach over 400,000 college students. It’s a unique marketing opportunity to reach a high volume of students in a relatively short period of time. We will walk you through the three biggest Spring Break marketing destinations, and first we’ll start with….

Panama City Beach:

As the number one Spring Break destination in the country, Panama City Beach offers a wide breadth of marketing opportunities. Here at Campus, we have access to some of the most popular hotels including The Summit Resort. Hotel branding is a great way to get your brand in front of students and make your brand unforgettable.

Hotel marketing includes but is not limited to:

  • Hotel signage and branding
  • Branded key cards
  • Pool deck branding
  • On beach activation in front of the Summit
  • In room drops
  • Elevator wraps
  • Collateral distribution
  • Door hangers


Nightlife Marketing:

After the sun goes down the opportunities to reach students continue…

  • Create VIP experiences
  • Signature drinks and
  • Panamaniac Card Sponsorship
  • In Club Signage

Events & Stunts:

Go big or go home! Event sponsorship and stunt marketing are splashy ways to make your mark. Take branding to the next level with concert sponsorship, we can get your signage in front of ten of thousands of students at the hottest concerts in PCB.  Campus has even helped break Guinness World Records.

Spring Break is the time to get creative!  We can help create the ultimate campaign that students will even bring back to campus and share with their friends.  Whether you are just look for space to activate, or need help from ideation to execution, Campus can help you make your market at Spring Break 2016!

Stay tuned for our next post on South Padre Island, TX!

For more information contact for more info! Or send us a message.

Spring Break

The Campus Agency Adds Premier Spring Break Resort to 2016 Roster

BOSTON, MA – The Campus Agency, a leading college marketing firm, in conjunction with their spring break partner CMG Media Agency have announced an official partnership with the Isla Grand Hotel & Resort. The Isla Grand is one of South Padre Island’s most identifiable hotel properties for major Spring Break events and promotions during the month of March.

Starting on March 5th and running through the end of the month, The Campus Agency will offer brands the ability to reach student guests at the resort through multiple channels including beach activations, hotel room product drops, digital marketing through email/social media, signage/branding in market and on the hotel property, live music and entertainment, as well as the ability to brand major beach concerts.

“We are really excited to add the Isla Grand Resort to our portfolio of spring break marketing offerings this year. The property has been an iconic spring break destination for more than 15 years, and we are looking forward to delivering memorable and successful programs for our clients,” said Chris Nyland, VP of Brand Partnerships for The Campus Agency.

The Isla Grand Resort partnership adds to an already extensive list of spring break markets that The Campus Agency offers including; Panama City Beach, Lake Havasu, Daytona Beach, Myrtle Beach, and Miami Beach.

For more information on how brands can get involved with this unique experience and reach students visit or email