Skip to content
Marketing Collegiate Events: What Do Students Want to See from Brands?

Marketing Collegiate Events: What Do Students Want to See from Brands?

College students are spending over $1 billion per year. That’s a lot of money. How do brands influence those dollars? What can they do when it comes to marketing collegiate events on-campus? It starts by reaching out to them in a way that gets their attention. Here are four companies that cracked the code of marketing collegiate events to students.

Marketing Collegiate Events: What Do Students Want to See from Brands?

Red Bull

Red Bull is known for some seriously hardcore stunts. They don’t hold back. Who else sends someone nearly to space to freefall their product back to Earth?

When Red Bull wanted to connect with university students, they got creative by helping their target create. It wasn’t just enough to bring an experience to students, they had the students create the experience. Marketing collegiate events under the lens of the target audience was a success.

Red Bull’s Hack the Hits event invited university students from all over the nation to participate in a contest to create new sounds in music with diverse technologies. Five teams of three were tasked with coming up with something entirely brand new – and they delivered.

Not only were six colleges involved, the event garnered a great deal of earned media through write-ups in numerous news publications. The emergent technologies produced will have unsurpassed reach and history.

Bring successful collegiate events to life, no stress

Get Started Free


Every college has brand ambassadors just waiting in the wings. But Tinder didn’t wait for brand ambassadors to identify themselves. Instead, they sent its co-founder to universities to onboard new members fast.

Whitney Wolfe, former co-founder of Tinder, leveraged events as a way to grow their userbase. She created events aimed at college students. These events were large but intimate ones to really seed the app deep into the culture of each campus.

Wolfe visited chapters of her sorority at schools nationwide and created profiles of her sisters. Then she visited the corresponding fraternities and showed them all the available women they could swipe. She took Tinder’s membership numbers from 5000 to 15,000 in her first tour. Sometimes going grassroots is the quickest way to get the word out on your brand.

Marriott International

The way college students respond to brands changes every day. Funny was in for a while and last year “authenticity” was all abuzz. Now, students are looking for brands that care about things that matter outside of what they’re selling.

One of Marriott International’s core values is, “We put people first”. They show they do genuinely care about other humans so it’s no stretch that they’re trying to make change in the world. They took college event marketing to another level outside the realm of purposeful marketing.

Marriott sponsored, partnered, and participated in an event on empowering women, Asian University for Women. The conference brought together Asia’s future female leaders to talk about challenges, goals, and the future of Asian women in leadership roles.

Marriott will continue to sponsor, mentor, and provide fundraising for scholarships for 100 women at the university for two years. The hotel has made insightful videos from the conference about the issues facing these students so that their project can be shared. Marriott answered the call that marketing collegiate events need to show it’s contributing to a great good.

Plan Events Seamlessly


Target events capture what students need NOW. From setting up glass-walled “dorm rooms” in campus common areas to midnight field trips to the nearest Target, their events cement brand loyalty in the moment.

Target has been busing students from campus to store on the first day of school for well over a decade. The campaign’s success has reached thousands of students.

This year, they hosted a live look inside five created dorm rooms 24/7 for four days straight. The dorms were filled entirely with Target available products positioned over a stage set where different brands participated in their own live events in tandem. At night, the set was a platform for live bands and social activities in front of an onsite and online audience.

The dorm rooms were occupied by YouTube celebs to maximize reach. Online followers could click on any product in the room to purchase. The gain was over 70 million Twitter impressions and 152 million PR impressions.

How can you rethink your brand’s event marketing strategy? These four brands branched way out from free water bottles and t-shirts and got into what really makes an impression and adds value to student life. Social media campaigns work but these companies took it up a notch. And created memories for the students in the process.

Drive New Revenue Opportunities with University Events

What’s your secret to marketing collegiate events? Tell us how your brand made an impact on-campus in the comments or on Facebook