Deepashree Banerjee

Brands woo collegians with 'back to campus' ads

From OnePlus to Tinder to Dell, advertisers look for ways to connect with the 18 to 24-year-olds - the potential buyers of tomorrow.

Ahead of every new college season, brands across categories have almost made it a practice to introduce their 'Back to Campus' campaigns with a slew of offers for students. From print ads to social campaigns, advertisers are smart enough to leave no stone unturned to develop a brand connect with the 18 to 24-year-olds, given the fact that they are the potential future buyers.

In 2016, Dell ran the first of a series of 'Back to College' campaigns to empower the youth to pursue their passions and discover new-age skills that could help them chart their own career path.

Cut to the present, global smartphone brand OnePlus has recently released a feel-good ad film - 'Be College Ready with OnePlus' - that evokes nostalgia for the father-son relationship.

On the other hand, we recently spotted a full-page creative by HP India in a national daily, featuring Siddhanth Chaturvedi a.k.a MC Sher (of 'Gully Boy' fame) promoting the brand's 'back to college' deals.

Brands woo collegians with 'back to campus' ads

HP India creative
Click on the image to enlarge

The trend obviously isn't restricted to the tech brands.

Interestingly, Dallas-based dating app Tinder started out with an aim to engage with the country's youth, leverage campus-focused initiatives and to make Tinder a part of the college experience.

The app's Tinder U program allows full-time students an opportunity to join the Tinder Student brand marketing team to help engage, educate and inspire their campus about all things Tinder. College representatives work together as part of a larger community to spark awareness, ignite conversation and leverage on-campus partnerships related to the brand.

So what do advertisers need to know about college students' media and social media habits in order to develop that brand connect to reach this demographic?

Brands woo collegians with 'back to campus' ads

Rahul Vengalil

As far as the brand approach is concerned, Rahul Vengalil, founder of digital agency WhatClicks, doesn't see much difference between understanding the pulse of the college students and that of any other customer. He points out that the only difference that they need to be aware of is that collegians are growing up in the digital world and take digital experiences for granted. "If brands aren't able to understand that, then they miss out. Brands can spend hours going through Instagram to understand what is moving these guys, can spend some time in a coffee shop and overhear their dreams and aspirations, conduct an event for these kids to interact with them directly and so on," he points out.

He tells us that collegians have always been a key part of marketers' cohorts. "Apple has been targeting this segment with their college kids offers for years now. I still remember the British Airways ads with extra baggage for college kids from India," he informs.

"College is the place where the youth of tomorrow develops their brand preferences, especially in the technology and lifestyle space. If brands are able to influence them at this stage, then they have hooked a customer for a long time and that's the reason this segment is super important," he says.

Brands woo collegians with 'back to campus' ads

Back to School #SpendItWell campaign by luxury, British retailer Marks & Spencer

In fact, even globally back-to-college campaigns often turn out to be effective on social media as long as the brand connects with the TG portraying how their products fit into students' lives.

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