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OnDitmagazine ― Features

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Here at the University of Adelaide, O’Week is about two things. There’s the actual orientation – meeting tutors, having the Vice-Chancellor tell you how lucky you are to be a part of this great institution, finding your lecture theatre, finding the quickest route from said lecture theatre to the bar– and then there are the events. Everyone gravitates to the lawns, because that’s where the fun happens, and of course, that’s where the marketers hang out. But why are they there? Who let them in? What business do they have entering hallowed university grounds, where nought but lofty thoughts and academic excellence should be allowed? Clearly, someone stands to gain from the arrangement, but who? Leanne Bruno is Events Coordinator at Adelaide University Union. She’s a busy woman. This time of year is taken up largely with organising O’Week. Hundreds of companies apply to be a part of O’Week – the usual suspects being banks, government departments, food and beverage companies and travel providers. Most operate stalls or give out samples, but some also sponsor activities or get to be part of the O’Week ‘showbag’. Leanne mentions that she knocks back dozens of companies, as there just isn’t enough space. She also confirmed that previously some companies have marketed on-site without AUU permission. Clearly, the benefits of foisting your product on potential customers outweigh the possible risk of a reprimand from Security Services. So, what is it about the university set that inspires marketers to go to such lengths? Obviously, the more people know your product, the more potential customers you have. But surely there are easier ways than going on campus and handing out flyers and product samples? Well, perhaps not. University students are often regarded as their own demographic, as distinct from other 18-25 year olds. According to Roger James, CEO of the Australian Marketing Institute, students in this fast-paced modern world are far more critical of marketing than their predecessors: “One of the challenges is that we all know that you guys are a lot [better] than we were when we were young at recognising what you think is a scam, or seeing through ploys that you don’t think are honest.”

Tim Addington, Editor of the advertising trade magazine B&T adds: “[The student market] isn’t necessarily harder to crack, but [marketers] have to go about it in slightly different ways. Students are more cynical towards the traditional advertising messages, so marketers have to come up with slightly different ways of engaging that audience.”

Both Addington and James concur that the best way to engage students in a brand is through ‘experiential marketing’. Experiential marketing is about getting the demographic to interact with your brand, through someone handing you a product sample, like a can of drink, or giving you a role in shaping the brand. Anyone feel like some iSnack 2.0? The traditional advertising media of TV, radio, print and billboards just don’t cut through like they used to. So if the student market is difficult, or at least costly to crack, why are marketers interested? Addington and James suggest that students are such an important demographic because they straddle the line between being in control of their spending, but not being set in their ways (as opposed to, say, the 30+ demographics). Brand loyalty means repeat customers. If a student has a ‘positive brand experience’ while

On Dit Magazine: Volume 78, Issue 1  

On Dit Magazine is a fortnightly Australian student magazine with an emphasis on exceptional writing, photography, and illustration.

On Dit Magazine: Volume 78, Issue 1  

On Dit Magazine is a fortnightly Australian student magazine with an emphasis on exceptional writing, photography, and illustration.