Marketers looking to reach the college student demographic won't find a better venue than spring break in Panama City Beach, FL, according to Alloy Inc., which is running its SB'05 cooperative marketing program there this month.
Panama City Beach is the nation's No. 1 spring break destination for college students. During the spring break season it attracts an estimated 400,000 spring breakers with an average age range of 18-24, who are then engulfed in marketing, an Alloy executive said.
“You won't find a more concentrated group of college students at any other event,” said Pete D'Andrea, vice president of sponsorship and events at Alloy Media + Marketing, New York, an Alloy Inc. company. “We surround the student every step of the way during their spring break experience.”
This March, Alloy has exclusive marketing rights to beachfront property in Panama City Beach as well as marketing rights for five hotel properties and exclusive rights to Spinnaker Beach Club, the biggest nightclub in Panama City Beach, where the firm can do cup and napkin advertising as well as events.
“Not only are we on the beach with events that allow students to interact with brands, we also surround them at the hotels,” D'Andrea said.
Marketing efforts vary by client, but typical initiatives at the hotels include in-room sampling, key card advertising, mirror clings, shower curtains, door hangers, lobby column wraps, elevator wraps and bus advertising. Campaigns can be as large or small as clients need, and the cost varies accordingly, from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, D'Andrea said.
Alloy's approach is similar to what the firm does at campuses during other times of the year, but on a larger scale.
As in previous years, several movie and television studios teamed with Alloy to promote upcoming releases. This year some have intensified their presence, and others have come for the first time. One first-timer is Fox Broadcasting, promoting its animated series “Family Guy” with a hut decorated like the house from the series and televisions airing episodes of the show all day long.
While movies and TV seem a perfect fit for a college audience, a new marketer to the spring break scene is counting on students' love of snacking.
LiDestri Foods and Santa Fe Chili Co. launched its Santa Fe Salsa at spring break this year. The company had the hotels give a family-size bag of chips and a 16-ounce jar of its salsa to each student checking in March 12. The company also sponsored daily salsa wrestling contests the week of March 12, giving the winner of each salsa wrestling match VIP passes to Spinnaker Beach Club and a chance to wrestle other winners on March 18 for $1,000. Santa Fe Salsa was served at each wrestling event, which drew as many as 3,000 spectators each. The salsa also was served at the Verizon Wireless hub on the beach where students can call home for free and sample products.
Another new product being promoted this year is Axe men's shower gel from Unilever.
“Axe is kind of an irreverent brand, and they cross the edge on a lot of their campaigns, which is a natural fit for spring break,” D'Andrea said.
The campaign features the slogan, “How dirty boys get clean,” and uses media such as shower curtains, mirror clings, hotel key cards, nightclub and bus advertising to get its message across.
The product also is being promoted through Alloy's program at the second-most-popular spring break destination: Cancun, Mexico. Alloy is partnered with the Oasis hotel in Cancun, which even has Axe beach umbrellas to drive home the point.
Though the success of marketers' spring break campaigns isn't typically measurable, a study last year by Alloy's 360 Youth marketing division showed that 65 percent of students surveyed said they planned to buy a sponsor's product after they returned to school.
Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters