GAME. DAY. Football tailgates are fast paced, lively environments and are often a huge part of campus culture. Catching the attention of students in the middle of the madness can be a trying task. However, when tailgate sponsorships are done right, they can be the gateway to creating collegiate brand fans!

Here are six ways to ensure your tailgate sponsorship is a hit:

Create Shareable Moments

Sharing content to Instagram and Snapchat is top-of-mind for college students, especially during a tailgate. Since a student’s social following consists of both their on-campus and hometown networks, finding ways to naturally incorporate your brand is a huge advantage. Utilizing branded photo booth prop-signs is one way to create a shareable moment for students to utilize on their platforms. Leveraging the growing popularity of polaroid photos amongst Millennials, and supplying Instax cameras and branded FUJIFILM is another way to ensure that your brand will be featured on social media. A more subtle approach is to supply relevant promotional items as they can be utilized in photos as well.

Incorporate an Interactive Activity

Students attend tailgates to have fun! Keep it light by providing an activity students can participate in that positions your brand as the life of the party. Cornhole, jumbo pong, and ultimate frisbee are just a few examples of popular tailgate games your brand could provide. Not only are these games elements easy to transport and cheap to produce, they can also be branded!  

Make Sign-Ups Easy

If your intention is to capture emails at this event, or opt students into your loyalty program, make sure the sign-up process is quick and easy! The attention span of students during tailgates will be short. If the sign-up process is long, students will likely give faulty information to cut down on time. If your system requires a specific password, be sure to reiterate this information to the student before they sign-up to cut down on time.

Incorporating an incentive in exchange for an email is always a smart move. It increases interest and can help reduce the number of fake sign-ups. Offering a reward that can be utilized in-store and online, or a discount with their first purchase, is ideal as these can be emailed out after the event. If you chose this route, be sure to wait at least 24 hours to send a the initial email or SMS message.

Try Guerilla Marketing

If you’re working with a tight budget, guerilla marketing could be the best bang for your buck! Some venues require payment to reserve a table or promote a brand on campus, but guerilla marketing lets you get scrappy. Not only is mobilizing a street team an easy way to avoid cost, it’s also a great way to ensure you reach the maximum number of students. At a table, you’re restricted to one location. Guerilla marketing allows you to go out and interact with students, rather than waiting for them to approach you! Just make sure you’ve hired the right campus reps to be the face of your brand.

Keep It Casual 

Students will be hesitant to interact with people taking themselves too seriously during a tailgate. To make sure that you don’t stick out in the wrong way, have all members of the team dress casually (it’s a tailgate—no one should be wearing a button down unless it’s an SEC frat). Additionally, provide value and don’t be salesy when speaking about your brand. No one attended this tailgate hoping to be sold something.

Branded Tailgate-Themed Promo Items & Product

Providing promo items that are tailgate-relevant can make an impact on campus all season long! Some of our favorites include footballs, hats, bottle openers, koozies, and stadium cups. Color coordinating the promo items and product with the home team’s school colors will increase the chances of students holding onto them for later use. Be sure to keep the items small as student won’t be able to bring large items into the stadium.

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How can YMC Help?

Want to bring your brand to campus but aren’t sure how to get started? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!

User generated content (UGC) is a constant player in the marketing world. By definition, UGC is any type of content that has been created and put out there by unpaid contributors or fans. To put it simply, it’s when someone promotes your product or service on their own social media channels. Their content could come in the form of an Instagram post, YouTube video, tweet, blog, online review, or many other mediums. 

UGC is authentic, organic, and trusted by Millennials. In a recent study, it was stated that 47% of Millennials trust UGC over content created by brands. As you can see, UGC is effective, but how can your brand encourage its customers and fans to create more content on the brand’s behalf? The answer is a user generated content marketing campaign. Below are six examples of campaigns that worked well for brands in the past.

Highlight a Lifestyle

There are multiple lifestyle brands that encourage customers to feature products on their personal social media channels. This encourages individuals to showcase how the brand is incorporated into their active lifestyles. For example, if you check out the L.L. Bean Instagram account, you’ll notice that they frequently regram customers who have featured L.L. Bean product in their Instagram posts. Customers are encouraged to post on their social channels using the hashtag #beanoutsider, which has generated 60k+ posts to date.   

User generated content

Host a Contest

Hosting a contest on social media is a popular way to generate UGC—that’s what the athletic apparel company, Outdoor Voices, did last year. Referencing their “doing things is better than not doing things” moto, they created an Instagram contest around #DoingThings. Outdoor Voices gave a lucky someone a year of leggings (one pair each month) in exchange for them posting a photo with the hashtag #DoingThings and following @outdoorvoices on Instagram. Even after the contest concluded, fans of the brand still use the hashtag #DoingThings when including the brand in their posts (91K+ posts to date).

Have an Evergreen Hashtag

Many brands generate content by promising to share UGC on their websites or owned social media channels, eliciting a competition among their followers. Madewell is a good example of this, “Share your Madewell denim love with us. Submit a photo here or on Instagram with #denimmadewell—we’re showcasing our favorite snaps.” Not sure if the denim will fit you correctly? Take a look at the hashtag and you’ll be able to see it on 23k+ girls with your size or style. Seeing denim on a variety of “regular” people is especially useful in encouraging purchase consideration.

User generated content

Have Seasonal Hashtags

MeUndies also features UGC on their account if a follower posts with their hashtag. The difference between their campaign and the Madewell example? MeUndies switches up the ask, and the hashtag, based on the season or product feature. For example, prior to Valentine’s Day, MeUndies posted, “Tag photos of you, your boo, and maybe your pooch too with #MatchMeUndies for a chance to be featured during V-Day Season.” Switching up the hashtag keeps the contests new and exciting, and allows the brand to generate seasonally relevant content.

Support a Movement

In a groundbreaking move, Aerie decided to discontinue the use of Photoshop in 2014 and has been a champion of body-positivity ever since. Their campaign #AerieREAL is about encouraging others to embrace their real bodies, be inclusive, and of course, no retouching. Aerie asks their users to “let the real you shine” and share how they are #AerieREAL through unretouched photos on social media. Aerie often utilizes this content on their own social pages, website, and even on images printed in stores. Also incorporating a charity aspect, Aerie recently donated $1 (up to $25K) to the National Eating Disorders Association for every unretouched swim photo shared on social media with #AerieREAL. 

Hire Brand Ambassadors

While many UGC campaigns are done organically, hiring brand ambassadors guarantees high-quality content and allows you more control over the narrative. Aerie taps into the social media savvy college demographic through their brand ambassador program. These brand ambassadors embody the #AerieREAL mindset, and promote Aerie on their social accounts to peers. They also encourage friends to post with the hashtag, which spreads the #AerieREAL message across college campuses. Express is another brand that has capitalized on student brand ambassador content and activations. Express finds that the content created by their brand ambassadors often generates higher engagement than content created by the brand itself. Hiring and training brand ambassadors often pays for itself by reaching new consumers, driving awareness, and increasing sales.

UGC is effective, relevant, and authentic. Each of the above examples show how UGC can be achieved in a variety of ways. It’s important to assess your brand and figure out what type of campaign works for your specific needs; whether that is a seasonal promotion, a charity component, or a contest. Figure out what resonates with your fans and let them bring your brand to life.

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How Can YMC Help?

Want to reach the coveted Millennial and Gen-Z demographics by creating a user generated content campaign? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—and we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!

Sampling is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your product gets into the hands of potential consumers. Although sampling can be a great way to gain product exposure, it must be done strategically. Through a brand ambassador program, brands can leverage their ambassadors to host product sampling events on campus, specifically targeting key potential consumers within the collegiate market.

Here are five tips to running a successful sampling event on campus:

1) Relevance & Theme

Sampling events are typically straightforward—you distribute samples, students sample the product, and students (hopefully) convert. What turns sampling into conversion within the collegiate market, is relevance. Relevance can be created by activating and creating a theme for your product sampling event around key collegiate moments, including back-to-school, Spring Break, or graduation.

For example, a cosmetics company with a wide range of bronzing and body products may want to host a sampling event pre-Spring Break. By hosting the event pre-Spring Break, students will have the opportunity to sample the brand’s relevant warm-weather products such as bronzers, self-tanners, and moisturizers. The event’s proximity to Spring Break will help keep the brand top-of-mind while students are making their travel skincare and makeup purchasing decisions.

2) Product Selection & Size

This may sound obvious, but sampling events should always distribute sample size products. Some brands opt to distribute full-sized products in the hopes of building deeper brand loyalty, however this strategy can ultimately hurt sales. By distributing full-sized product, students are are less likely to head in-store and purchase—and why would they? They already own it!

In addition, selecting sample size products that fit into your event’s theme increases brand relevance and purchase consideration. Going back to the Spring Break example, distributing TSA-approved samples indicates to students that your travel-sized line is perfect for Spring Break.

3) Track Your Success

Through the use of various digital platforms, brands are able to track the success of their sampling events. Coupons are a great way to incentivize students to purchase full-sized product. When creating a coupon, it’s important to make redemptions trackable and unique to your specific program or event. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that the coupon is incentivizing enough—at least a 20% discount—and that it doesn’t compete with any better online or in-store promotions.

Most often, the best indicator of event success will be the sales generated. If you had an event at American University, check to see if there was a sales lift at nearby stores. By tracking the sales of your event, you will be able to determine if your sampling strategy was successful, or if not, how you can change you strategy to ensure future success.

4) Include an Acquisition Element

Students love samples and are typically willing to give personal information in exchange! If your goal is to collect more emails for future email marketing campaigns, an online sweepstakes is an easy way to organically collect those emails. Simply encourage students to sign-up for the sweepstakes in order to gain a sample. Alternately, if your brand is looking to increase their following on social media, implement a “Follow for a Sample” exchange. Both acquisitional tactics have proven successful at sampling events and will provide your brand added value.

5) Location, Location, Location & Time

Keep in mind that each campus you activate on is different! The best way to ensure that your event location and timing works for each unique campus is to ask students or have your brand ambassadors inform your decision. The ambassadors know what days and times are busiest on campus and which locations harbor the most student traffic. Work with your ambassadors to secure the event location and time at least two weeks prior to the event.

The last piece to consider? Hire passionate brand ambassadors and your sampling event will practically run itself!



Want to get your product into the hands of Millennials and Gen-Z? Finding the right partner is key to your success. Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!