From Campus to Consumer: Unveiling the Power of Brand Sampling and Activations on Campus


In this week’s blog we’re focusing on brand activations and sampling to that target college students. With September just around the corner, brands will be jostling to get into the hands of students and make a connection with them to convert them into long term customers and consumers. Below we share some insights and tips from 30 years from industry knowledge in Verve. 

Sampling Tips

Hot Spots For College Sampling

Location, location, Location! This is a key factor for successfully reaching a brand’s target audience. Sampling on college campuses is of course the prime hot spot for reaching mass amounts of college students at once. Always look out for a spot with high footfall/exposure. The Students Union is a great location and people spend time there rather than just passing by, meaning that they engage with the brand ambassadors and the activation more. Another great option is shopping centres in the surrounding areas of college campuses. An example of this is the Alpro It’s Not Milk campaign where we saw a large amount of interest from college students when sampling in Manor Mills, Maynooth as students passed through between lectures and lunch. 

Peak Times For Running Sampling Campaigns 

Timing is another key ingredient to nailing a sampling campaign. The most popular times of the college calendar year for high footfall and sampling is freshers and refreshers week. This is when there is an influx of new students and attendance is extremely high in comparison to other times throughout the year. Freshers week is also a great time for sampling as students who are new to living out of home are very grateful to receive a free treat! 

Exam Season is another time we find to be a good opportunity. Both Christmas and Summer exams are something that the majority of students will have and once who again they are very grateful to receive something free on a stressful exam day.

How Sampling Campaigns Appeal To College Students

As an agency we are always seeking new innovative ways to appeal to our clients desired target audience. When it comes to college students and the activations we run, we find giveaways to be a great method of ensuring high engagement around the campaign. Everyone is always delighted to receive a freebie no matter what the sample. However, our main goal is to make the campaign so memorable that the consumer leaves with positive associations of the brand.

Case Studies

Alpro – It’s Not M*lk 

The Alpro – It’s Not Milk activation gave people the chance of winning €500 in cash if they received the carton with the golden ticket on the bottom. Out of 5 locations, in 2 of them the winners were college students, who left saying Alpro was now their number one brand as they were ecstatic to receive the €500. 

Coca Cola Zero

Another great example was the Coca-Cola Zero activation which took place on college campuses regionally. People had the chance of winning a pair of beats, and could also receive free merchandise such as tote bags. These two items are extremely practical for and popular amongst college students. To win the beats, consumers had to post on their story tagging Verve and Coca-cola, meaning even those who were not on campus would be reached and view Coca-cola in a great light.

Just Eat X UEFA

The final example is the Just Eat x UEFA activation. College students had to score into a Just Eat delivery bag at the top of the goal and had the chance of winning a pair of champions league tickets, travel and accommodation. This memorable experience had students jumping at the chance to play and even the possibility of winning left them with a very positive brand image. Alongside this vouchers and merchandise were also given out.

Overall we feel we have run some really successful brand activations where college students were the heart of the activation. Once we brainstorm the creative side of things such as what giveaways appeal to college students and leave positive brand associations with them then logistics become key, location and timing being the two main factors. 

If you are looking to take your brand to new heights this college season, get in touch with us here. 

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