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How Has the Pandemic Changed College Marketing?

Universities around the world have faced many changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, campus marketing has been drastically transformed

I spoke with Adam Grant, CEO of Campus Commandos regarding the shift the marketing industry has faced due to remote instruction. 

According to their website, Campus Commandos is a “campus marketing powerhouse that focuses solely on marketing to college students.” Through the platform, companies and organizations have access to thousands of pre-screened, reliable brand ambassadors on more than 1,000 college campuses nationwide. Brands are able to engage with college students, ranging from large undergraduate enrollment schools, HBCUs, HSIs, Community Colleges, city schools and greek life. 

The Go Commando app is designed to streamline the lengthy and costly process of finding brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors can receive tasks, complete tasks, document success and get paid all from their phones.

Adam began by discussing how brands adjusted their ambassador programs during the pandemic. 

At Michigan State University, Victoria’s Secret has had a campus representative program over the last few years. “In years past, they would train ambassadors at their headquarters in Ohio, but with COVID, that went virtual this year,” Adam said. 

When reviewing what’s available online about the Victoria Secret campus representative program, Grant mentioned, “PINK sent three different bags of free items to be opened by ambassadors before the start of each virtual training day. Each bag was themed based on the days’ agenda — back-to-school, social media and mental health.” 

Brands have sought to reach students who are not on campus by sampling. Ambassadors would hand out samples at campus-sponsored events or host their own events where students could try out products. 

To accommodate safety guidelines, Campus Commandos proposed replacing ambassadors with vending machines.  Brand ambassadors can also organize events using video conferencing platforms such as Zoom to promote products to their peers safely.

The Campus Commandos website says ambassadors have begun training students virtually, which has proved to be equally as effective as in-person training at a fraction of the cost.

However, the most effective technique in connecting with college students has been mobile apps. “Phones provide a sense of normalcy for college students, which allow mobile apps to be even more engaging during this time,” Grant said. 

 

Most importantly, Grant noted a major shift in college marketing that extends beyond the pandemic. He stated, “Some trends will stay beyond the pandemic, such as virtual interviewing and onboarding as well as the use of mobile apps for marketing.” 

Wajeeha Kamal is a freshman at Michigan State University in the James Madison and Honors College. She is majoring in political theory and constitutional democracy. Alongside, she plans to pursue a dual-degree in journalism. She is minoring in history. Wajeeha would like to go to law school for constitutional law and work for the ACLU or as a federal prosecutor. In her free-time, she enjoys researching true-crime, reading, and watching Netflix!
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