Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Spring Break, Baby!

Next week, IC students will be leaving campus to enjoy Spring Break. Many of my friends are taking trips to Florida, Costa Rica, Cancun, even Utah to ski (even though I would rather be somewhere warm). I am one of the unfortunate ones going nowhere warm and will be home in Ohio. It will really be nice to relax, though. Anyways, with Spring Break upon us, this is an ample time to discuss how marketers use product placement within the college party and Spring Break environment to create brand recognition, awareness, and positive associations about their products.

This article on MediaLife Magazine Online discusses the Las Vegas area as a Spring Break retreat and party zone for college students. It is very evident that marketers are aware of the opportunity to target these students who are visiting the area to party and have a good time. It seems to be that the primary strategy for targeting this demographic is to catch them off guard and place a product where a student may least expect it. In turn, they will be forced to acknowledge it and put it in their mental file. It may also lead to a purchase at some point, most importantly.

For example, marketers place branded goods such as towels, pillowcases, beach umbrellas, and coasters in hotel rooms, lobbies, and common areas of hotel facilities. I know I would not expect it if I laid my head down for a bit and saw a Corona at my eye level. Placement is also taking place in lobby billboards and scrolls, in elevator shafts, and on, believe it or not, key cards. I would never think that the key to my hotel room would be an opportunity for a company to market to me, but it is indeed a very smart place to place a brand. I need that key the entire trip, so I will see the brand the entire trip and will most likely remember it. Finally, and something that is my favorite - samples! Hotels or public vendors give out gender-specific or non-gender specific “survival” packs at check-in or during the vacation that urges brand awareness and product trials. Everyone loves free samples, so I feel this would be very effective as well.

According to the article, approximately 200,000 to 300,000 students visit Las Vegas on their Spring Break. This is a very large and promising target to reach. Many well-known companies are taking advantage of this audience and already have decided to market and associate their products with 2007 Spring Break including Gillette Razors, Secret deodorant, Bic Razors, Ice Breakers, Axe, Sunsilk, Rohto V and Crest.

Also, and more obviously, alcohol is a major sponsor and marketer during this time. This article states that over Spring Break, men "are reported drinking 18 drinks per day and the average woman drinks 10 per day." In addition, 40% of men and 33% of women reported being drunk daily. This is a large statistic that demonstrates Spring Break alcohol use. Beer and alcohol companies KNOW that students are out to party and drink, so they place their brand all over the Spring Break premises, so people will drink THEIR brand. The link to the article shows pictures of Budweiser on a beach ball and a large banner that is advertising a party associated with Bacardi, where the logo is largely displayed.

So, all college students beware! You may be getting away from the world of school for a while, but you are not escaping the world of advertising and product placement. Marketers are out to get YOU on Spring Break and will find you when you least expect it. Be on the lookout, if you can, and most of all, have an enjoyable and safe Spring Break!

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