Ambassador programs give students unique marketing experiences


Photo courtesy of Kathryn Storey

Kathryn Storey, campus ambassador for Love Your Melon, poses with one of its signature beanies. Love Your Melon is one of the many organizations offering campus ambassador positions.

By Sarah O'Beirne, Staff writer

Companies like Love Your Melon and Lifetime do not always reach college-age students through “normal” advertising. They instead target them through other members of the student body who act as representatives or ambassadors.

Major corporations from Red Bull to Tinder also have college ambassador programs, which involve college students who use advertising and social media strategies to market the corporations’ products or services directly to their peers. This is potentially more effective than any marketing campaign.

Kathryn Storey, senior in ACES, has been a college crew member for Love Your Melon, an apparel brand that supports pediatric cancer, since the second semester of her freshman year.

Storey said the Love Your Melon crew’s main mission is to spread awareness of pediatric cancer. Crew members do not sell apparel but instead are sent products from the Minneapolis headquarters to raffle off for promotional purposes.

“The brand has exploded on campus,” Storey said. “Whenever I say (I am a rep for) Love Your Melon, people know the products, which makes our job easier on campus.”

Another part of Storey’s job as a crew member is to visit children at Loyola Hospital in Chicago. She provides them and the members of their families each with a hat.

“We want to put a smile on every kid’s face that has pediatric cancer and let them know that they are not alone,” Storey said.

Storey said her three years working with Love Your Melon has shaped her college experience.

“Whenever you’re in Champaign for four months at a time per semester, your mindset changes just being here. And when you go home, you almost forget the other world exists because you’re stuck in this college bubble,” Story said. “Being a part of an organization just broadens your experience and helps you remember that life goes on outside of college.”

Not all college representative positions are paid, but some are. Danniella Cole, sophomore in Media, earned ten dollars an hour through her position with Lifetime Movies.

Cole was paid through Venmo. She said the pay was sometimes delayed, but the company always followed through.

At the University, there are a total of seven Lifetime Movie representatives from different social sororities. The representatives held three movie nights a month at different sorority houses to promote Lifetime’s new movies.

The representatives also posted photos on their personal Instagram accounts from the events to advertise the network.

“It felt weird posting advertisements, and sometimes I didn’t want to,” Cole said. “It ended up being okay, and I got a lot of questions about it. It was weird, but at the same time, I was getting paid.”

Cole was surprised how difficult it was to get people to show up to the movie nights.

“I didn’t expect (it) because you’d think everyone wants to watch a movie,” Cole said. “This experience taught me how to promote events and how to use social media to a company’s advantage, which applies to my advertising major.”

In addition to apparel and movie companies, apps hire student representatives as well.

The dating app, Tinder, reached out to Anna Zirpolo, sophomore in Media, to apply for their program via direct messages on Instagram.

After interviewing for the position, Zirpolo was hired to promote the dating service through campus events.

“It was up to us to hold events on campus that we felt would best promote the application to students,” Zirpolo said. “We had the creative freedom to decide what was best. Our bosses would make suggestions, but it was as to what we thought would be most effective, so we’d have events at places on campus or pass out swag on the quad.”

The semester experience added not only to Zirpolo’s resume but gave her the value of real-world experience within her major, she said.

“It was sometimes stressful with school because I had a large workload last semester, but I was thankful I had the opportunity,” Zirpolo said. “I’m an advertising major, so it was applicable to my future plans. I enjoyed the experience and felt like I was pretty good at it. It taught me I was on the right track, and advertising was the right major for me.”

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