Campus marketing jobs provide experience, but effectiveness questioned

Kate Stein, Reporter

With student marketing representatives flooding Northwestern’s campus for the experience and resume-boosting they offer, some NU students are questioning whether such positions are necessary or effective.

Throughout campus, students represent companies like Ubisoft, which produces video games such as Just Dance and Assassin’s Creed, and Erodr, a social networking application designed for college campuses. Representatives perform tasks like organizing launch parties for their products, promoting brands to NU students and donating items to student groups.

Weinberg junior Zach Silva, who represents Ubisoft, said it’s difficult to gauge student interest in the company. Silva organizes promotional events for the company’s video games, maintains the NU Ubisoft Facebook page and gives Ubisoft promotional items to groups on campus.

“There are about 450 likes on the Facebook page, but it’s hard to tell whether or not people are genuinely interested in the game,” he said.

Silva said many students don’t have time to spend on Ubisoft products.

“Northwestern is not like a lot of other schools in this program,” he said. “The state schools have groups devoted to video games, but the quarter system makes marketing difficult.”

NU is one of four schools remaining in a national contest hosted by Ubisoft to get college students to like their school’s Ubisoft Facebook page.

Gamer Ian Coley, who liked the Ubisoft Facebook page at Silva’s request, said he does not object to the presence of marketers on campus.

“It’s fine,” Coley said of Ubisoft. “It doesn’t seem very aggressive and it’s not such an in-your-face campaign.”

Coley, a Weinberg senior, said he wasn’t sure if Ubisoft needs a marketing presence on campus. Coley said he thinks most NU students who play Ubisoft’s games are already aware of the company, so marketing to them is not necessary.

Coley also said he does not believe there’s much of a new market among other students, but would attend the company’s promotional events to connect with other gamers.

“It would have been cool to hang out with people here who play video games because you don’t get the chance very often.”

Jason Hutcheson, a Weinberg senior who also liked the Ubisoft Facebook page during a contest, said he is not familiar with most companies that hire student marketers. He said he does not think marketing by students on campus is an effective marketing strategy for companies in general.

“They’re working to attract students who have a lot of capital to invest in them, but at the same time, I feel that if they make good games, or in other cases, products, it’s not necessary.”

Medill sophomore Quinn Murphy, who had been representing Erodr, said in a message to The Daily that she temporarily stopped representing the brand because she and her boss did not think the application was getting off the ground at NU. She said the company found students were reluctant to change their social media habits but that new social media platforms sometimes lag behind in gaining followers. Murphy will resume her position in the spring, when the weather is more conducive to Erodr’s marketing campaign.

Whether or not student marketers help the companies expand their markets, the jobs give students interested in marketing and public relations a chance to develop their skills. Silva, who found the Ubisoft job through the School of Communication website, said that because he does not get a lot of guidance from the company, he develops his own marketing strategies.

“It’s a lot of great marketing experience. It has definitely allowed me to be more creative and have individual control over these promotions,” he said.

In addition to running the Facebook page and organizing gaming parties, Silva said he reaches out to student groups to promote the brand. Dance Marathon and the International Student Association World Cup will both have Just Dance booths at their events and will raffle off Ubisoft games to participants.

“A lot of it’s just working with fellow students,” Silva said.

He called his marketing job a “grassroots movement.”

“It’s a fun job to have during the school year.”