September 29th, 2011

The commercialization of the college campus

By Gwen Walsh
The Scarlet

You expect to get bombarded with advertisements when you watch free television on Hulu or walk through Times Square, but what about on your first day of college? That was the reality this fall for thousands of college freshman across the country. According to a New York Times broadcast, commercializing the freshman move-in experience is the new trend in marketing. From a Target-sponsored freshman inaugural party, to a crew clad in matching American Eagle T-shirts helping students move into their dorms, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus seems to be a hot spot for this kind of activity. The NYT video shows footage of these “brand ambassadors” or “campus evangelists” touting the greatness of American Eagle clothes and passing out promotional material as bewildered UNC freshman prepare to say goodbye to their parents for the first time. What better time to pounce on a vulnerable new customer?

But Chapel Hill isn’t the only university which is using its campus as a billboard. There is even a marketing firm, Mr. Youth, dedicated to organizing events which target the college consumer. CEO Matt Britton says “its really all about marketing through students instead of through students.” He estimates that there are 10,000 “campus evangelists” across the country.

I can’t discount the value of a job for college students in this economy or the “work experience at a major corporation,” that they receive, but I think it can be done with tact. Maybe they could schedule specific American Eagle events with free samples and brainwashing that students can choose to attend. Also, it seems that the employees are selected based on social standing, or physical attractiveness, not career merit.

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