Major corporate sponsors once again saw Spring Break as an opportunity to connect their brands with tens of thousands of college students.
Popular brands such as Coca-Cola, Gildan, Axe, Rider Sandals, Malibu and countless others all took advantage of popular spring break destinations including Panama City Beach, Daytona Beach, South Padre Island and Lake Havasu. During this annual epic student event, brands worked to connect with students in a meaningful and relevant way in the hopes of building long lasting brand loyalty.
Brand activations included concert-style stage set-ups, comfortable beach lounges, product sampling and of course, plenty of music, while hotel pool decks were also decked out with stages, DJ music, and branded booth ‘look and feel’ set-ups.
Brands see Spring Break as a vital contributor to their word-of-mouth success. Activations that are able to engage with students via any form of an experiential tactic are more likely to succeed in having student “influencers” take that brand experience back home to their college friends on campus.
“Just handing out freebies isn’t necessarily cutting it anymore,” said Carm Giardina, a representative of youth marketing firm Collegiate Marketing Group (CMG). “In order to really make an impression, brands need to add an experience-like dimension to their promotion.”
What Giardina is implying is that Spring Break marketing is evolving with the times and simply handing out a free sample isn’t strong enough to ensure that your product will last in the memory of a student heading back to school in a few days.
Brands that offer more “engagement” and allow for someone to “experience” a product are more likely to succeed. For example, Kickstart Energy Drink not only offered free samples of their new energy beverage, but also encouraged students to use their Instagram account for the purpose of winning cool prizes.
“Adding a social spin to a promotion is a popular choice for brands now because almost everyone in the student space is utilizing social media as a means of connecting, experiencing and sharing,” added Giardina.
If social media isn’t part of the plan, then perhaps allowing students to walk into a ‘brand environment’ is what will work. An example of this is how merchandise company Express Life chose to present their brand to spring breakers on the beach. According to Giardina, “Express had a very cool concept that really tapped into the whole experiential side of promoting a brand.” Their set-up was comprised of an approximate 20×20 walled booth, acting as a store to show off various products which students could walk through and browse. Outside the booth were comfy lounges for relaxing on, various games including sand bag horseshoe, and if that wasn’t enough, a DJ was stationed on the roof of the booth spinning music for all to listen to.
CMG has become a leader in the student marketing space and works with brands all year round to help connect them with students. CMG has overseen more than a dozen major brand activations and event programs thus far in 2013.
“The purpose of our many programs is to create a fun and memorable atmosphere in which college students can react positively to,” said Giardina. “The goal is to deliver an authentic message on behalf of our clients in order to have our targeted consumer (in this case, the college spring breaker) leaving with an impression that will stretch far beyond Spring Break.”
“The relationships that we have forged over the years have significantly helped us,” added Giardina. “We’re able to leverage those relationships, which ultimately becomes appealing for corporate brands wanting to partner with us.”
To learn more about CMG, please visit their website at www.cmgmediaagency.com.