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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
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Ambassador Programs Brand Activations Client Stories Experiential

Harley Reaches Gen-Z

Harley-Davidson occupies a singular position in American cultural consciousness. Their motorcycles elicit visions of never-ending roads, wide open spaces, and unlimited adventure. For over a century, the iconic potato-potato-potato of a Harley engine has come to signify more than just a brand. To generations of Americans, a hand on the throttle of a Harley means the freedom to forge your own path and define your own destiny.

But newer generations of Americans didn’t seem to get the message. Harley riders grew increasingly older, with Baby Boomers becoming a disproportionately large share of the brand’s customers. Harley’s storied history seemed to hamper them in marketing to Millennials and Gen Z, who saw them as a relic of a bygone era.

Or did they? With The Campus Agency’s help, Harley sought to discover a new market for their legendary motorcycles in the new generation of students who were simply unfamiliar with motoculture at large.


Reintroducing one of America’s most beloved brands to a new generation took the creation of unforgettable experiences for students. With our team’s help, Harley-Davidson found a network of students across the South who craved the thrills, excitement, and unbridled opportunity that comes with the wind whipping around their helmet on the back of a Harley motorcycle.

At four campuses, we sent a team of ambassadors to Harley riding school to learn the ins and outs of safe motorcycling. Armed with startup merch kits and a taste of Harley-fueled freedom, our ambassadors created a new motoculture movement on their campuses. They combed their schools for two-wheeled vehicles, leaving promotional materials for travelers who might want to amp up their two-wheel experience. They tabled for Harley in high-traffic areas on campus, in local coffee shops, and at Harley dealership events. Freedom Fridays, in which ambassadors raffled off Harley swag kits, became the hottest competition on campus.

The Campus Agency staged over 50 experiential marketing events for Harley-Davidson in 2019. At the University of Alabama’s fall activities fair, our ambassadors created the Bama Rides Out group, giving over 500 new students a crash course in motoculture. We teamed up with Sony and a local dealership at the University of Texas to host a tailgate activation event, where our ambassadors distributed merchandise and Riding Academy vouchers to some of the Longhorns’ most stalwart fans. Then, Harley-Davidson took over the annual Eve Carson 5K at the University of North Carolina, working in partnership with Greek organizations at one of UNC’s biggest philanthropic events of the year.
Our #CampusAgencyPowered Harley-Davidson campaign generated a fresh surge of buzz around an American tradition. Though their brand had struggled to attract younger generations, with The Campus Agency’s help, they found that the appetite for the freedom and excitement Harley represents is just as strong now as it was back in 1903. All it took to tap into this excitement was a little kick-start.

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Must Have Affordable Makeup for College Students

Makeup is trendy. Whether colorful cut-creases end up a fad or we all continue baking our faces for the foreseeable future, makeup is fun. But, all those fun products can add up fast. Fluorescent eye liners you’ll use a couple of times may not be worth their hefty price tag for a college student working in the student center. If you’re looking to try out a graphic liner for your next class or a halo eye next Friday night, keep reading to find affordable makeup must haves.

EyeShadow

Price: $15  Juvia’s Place

Juvia’s Place is THE PLACE for affordable eye shadow. They have tons of great pallets to pick from, with some of the best pigmentation! If your goal is to try out colorful eye looks or just the perfect soft glam look, you can collect all the shades you want!

Juviasplace
Source:@juviasplace Instagram

Loose Powder

Price: $7.99  Maybelline

Loose Powder is a makeup NECESSITY. You can use this powder for anything. You can ‘bake’ your face, use it to wipe away extra eyeshadow, set your liquid products so they don’t move around during the day, or even blend together anything you went a little too far with.

Source: @maybelline Instagram

Eyeliner

Price: $6-$8 Colourpop

If you’re looking for a finishing touch on any great eyeshadow look, eyeliners are your new best friend. A black winged liner, or crazy hot pink graphic liner outlining your eye takes work. You need a pigmented liner which is easy to rebuy when you run out from all your creative looks. This liner stays in place all day, but is easy to take off with any oil remover.

Source: @colourpopcosmetics Instagram

Eyebrow Pencil

Price: $10 Ulta

Your eyebrows frame your face. They’re important, but you don’t need to break the bank to get those bushy, full brows you see all over Instagram. With an eyebrow pencil you can change up the shape of your brows, or even the hue of your brow hair.

Source: Ulta.com

Makeup Tools

Price: $5.99 – $8.99 Real Techniques

Any great makeup look starts with great makeup tools. Whether it’s a beauty sponge, the perfect angled eyeliner brush or just a fluffy blending brush; they make a difference. Invest in tools you’ll have for years to come. Also, it doesn’t hurt if they look pretty sitting on your vanity.

Source: @realtechniques Instagram

So, give that glitter halo eye a chance and tag us in the results! These brands have tons of other great products at affordable prices to try out. Just because you’re a college student on a budget, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice great quality products because of their price. 💋

Is your beauty brand set to be the next must have for Gen Z? Contact us to see how we can help.

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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.