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Under Armour urges college students to compete in Facebook intern campaign

Client: Under Armour

?Agency: Red Tettemer ?& Partners?

Outtake: Building allegiance with young customer base through heavy social outreach, notably a Facebook contest to become a summer intern at the company?.

Under Armour, a marketer of athletic apparel, boasts a young customer base of consumers ages 12 to 19 as its bread and butter. Naturally, it has found in social media an effective way to connect with its active customer base, wherever they are and whatever they’re doing. With the brand bottleneck on social platforms and marketers vying for attention, Under Armour knew it had to communicate with its fans with an especially unique and clever message.?

To that end, it invited college students to apply via its Facebook page for a chance to be named part of a two-member “Ultimate Intern Team” for five weeks this summer. ?

“We didn’t have a huge budget, but we did have something very powerful to leverage, and that was the Under Armour brand,” says Steve Red, president and chief creative officer of Philadelphia agency Red Tettemer & Partners, which worked with Under Armour for the first time on the intern project. “The enthusiasm for the brand was really awesome, and the thing that we expected but that was still so awesome was the unbelievable enthusiasm that we got to see in the digital space.”?

Besides the Facebook tie-in, the company also got the word out via Twitter. Red Tettemer also engaged old-school marketing tactics, including placing announcements on the bulletin boards of Baltimore-area campuses.?

STRATEGY: With a budget of about $60,000, Under Armour — which markets active wear, athletic shoes and other gear through its website and retail stores nationwide — teamed with Red Tettemer with the goal of growing its digital and social presence, using its well-established Facebook page as the primary vehicle.?

Time-tested drivers for building audiences online include giving away merchandise, offering discounts and giving fans the opportunity to be associated with a brand. ?

Because Under Armour doesn’t do giveaways or discounts, it focused on extending its “halo effect” among consumers, says director of digital media Dan Mecchi.?

Under Armour already had a strong dialogue with its core audience, boasting nearly 1 million Facebook fans, but wanted to build more intimate connections with those customers, leading to a search for two interns for a five-week stint at its corporate headquarters in Baltimore. Applications had to be submitted via Under Armour’s Facebook page, where applicants had to “like” the brand and submit resumes and 140-character cover letters.?

Red says the idea for the contest grew out of a visit he and his colleagues made to Under Amour’s home base. “Their office is one of the coolest places on the planet. The first time we went there, it was incredibly evident how much people loved to work there,” he says. “We walked in there and saw the all-out love coming from employees. You don’t see that every day, and to be able to use that was pretty amazing.”?

“Our objective was to grow the Under Armour Facebook fan base, but to do it ethically and to not have to ‘buy’ an audience,” Mecchi says. ?

Once word of the contest was out, the most proactive of the wannabe interns quickly seized on the opportunity, using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to promote themselves for the intern positions. Some even encouraged the company to re-tweet their posts.?

RESULTS: Under Armour received more than 10,000 applications, which Red Tettemer helped cull to 25, and then a final 10. Keeping with the social spirit of the campaign, it conducted 15-minute job interviews with the finalists through Skype.?

The campaign helped increase the number of “Likes” on the brand’s Facebook page by 130%, while its active users via the social platform grew 25% and news-feed impressions jumped 45%, all in just four weeks. “Not only did we grow the base, but we activated them,” Mecchi says. “This is how this audience works. They’re young and fast. I think we tapped into that.”

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