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College Club Gets Students Talking

College Club (www.collegeclub.com), San Diego, this week will make the first drop of its 1 million piece direct mail campaign to promote its integrated voice mail and e-mail messaging system for college students.

The online college community, which offers free communication services to college students, will promote the offer through more than 100 million banner ads that will appear on the Web throughout the fall semester. The campaign also consists of print ads and on-campus registration drives. College Club is targeting the more than 15 million college students at the 4,000 colleges and universities across the United States.

“We will market to kids at schools that have only 1,000 students as well as those that have 30,000 to 40,000 students,” said Megan Humpal, director of student marketing at College Club. “This service is completely free for all students, whether they live on campus or not and regardless of the size of the school they attend.”

This marks the first official marketing launch of the 5-year-old company. It held off marketing the service, Humpal said, until it was fully developed and because of the rapid growth of e-mail.

“This originally started out as a telephone messaging service that commuter students could use and access from campus so they wouldn't have to go home,” she said. “Then, e-mail and the Internet really began to take off, so we felt it made the most sense to incorporate that into the service as well.”

With its Web site and word of mouth being its only advertising for the first couple of years, College Club has managed to acquire 150,000 members at 3,100 schools. By the end of the fall semester, Humpal expects to gain 15,000 new members through the direct mail campaign and more than 500,000 overall. MCI and educational company Kaplan are partnering with College Club in the campaign. The direct mail portion will occur in stages, with each drop consisting of 100,000 pieces that contain background information on the service and instructions on how to register.

Lycos (www.lycos.com), Waltham, MA, will display more than 100 million banner ads on its site during the semester. College Club also has deals with Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), Santa Clara, CA, and Excite (www.excite.com), Redwood City, CA, for later this fall. Close to 3 million more banner ads will appear on other sites like www.women.com, the Journal X site, Jumbo and Gamecenter.com, Humpal said; more deals will be announced over the next few months.

Through early November, MCI will conduct a nationwide campus tour with College Club in which they will stop at more than 100 campuses to promote the service.

“There will be five different groups driving across the country in MCI-branded Hummers,” Humpal said. “They will be bringing a party-type atmosphere to the campuses they stop at by playing music from Jive Record recording artists, demonstrating RollerBlade products, Cannondale bicycles and Vew-Do balance boards.”

MCI will include information on College Club in some of its upcoming direct mail pieces as well.

Through a co-branding agreement with Kaplan, College Club will set up tables on numerous campuses to promote the offer, as well as house Kaplan's educational content and services throughout its Web site. In addition, posters and pamphlets for the service will be placed in Kaplan offices around the country. A print ad campaign will appear in 175 campus newspapers, and College Club sent out mouse pads last week with the offer printed on them to a few hundred college computer labs.

Once students sign up for the service — either online or by calling a toll-free number — they receive a college club card that lets them get discounts on a number of products and services.

“They can go to our site and call up their city and they will be given a list of the companies and businesses there that are part of the program,” Humpal said. “They will be able to get discounts on things ranging from oil changes to haircuts.”

The service is an integrated voice and e-mail communication platform that lets students send and receive voice mail and e-mail by using either a touch-tone phone or a computer. College Club gets its revenue through Web and telephone advertising agreements it has with companies that either place ads on its Web site or put five-second voice ads at the beginning of the voice-mail service. It also has revenue-sharing agreements with companies that sell products from the College Club site.

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