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Big Ad Man on Campus

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Posted on Sep 11, 2011
Flickr / kcolwell

Students unload a truck together on freshman move-in day at Ohio Northern University.

American corporations are pushing the use of peer pressure to sell products to a new level as they hire roughly 10,000 college students around the country to work as brand ambassadors to their friends and acquaintances this year.

The idea is to increase a company’s exposure and appeal to a demographic that spent nearly $36 billion in 2010 by infiltrating student social life, through direct association with jocks, musicians and other popular and visible young people on campus. And many university administrations are going along with it. —ARK

The New York Times:

This fall, an estimated 10,000 American college students will be working on hundreds of campuses — for cash, swag, job experience or all three — marketing everything from Red Bull to Hewlett-Packard PCs. For the companies hiring them, the motivation is clear: college students spent about $36 billion on things like clothing, computers and cellphones during the 2010-11 school year alone, according to projections from Re:Fuel, a media and promotions firm specializing in the youth market. And who knows the students at, say, U.N.C., better than the students at U.N.C.?

... Companies from Microsoft on down are increasingly seeking out the big men and women on campus to influence their peers. The students most in demand are those who are popular — ones involved in athletics, music, fraternities or sororities. Thousands of Facebook friends help, too. What companies want are students with inside knowledge of school traditions and campus hotspots. In short, they want students with the cred to make brands seem cool, in ways that a TV or magazine ad never could.

... It’s a good deal for the student marketers, who can earn several hundred to several thousand dollars a semester in salary, perks, products and services, depending on the company.

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