Branding ASU

Retailers immerse themselves in campus community

Retailers are turning to ASU students to connect with their audience first-hand and expand their brands beyond their stores. Companies such as Adidas and Express recruit student brand ambassadors to ensure their names are known among the ASU community.

Campus ambassadors represent their brand at the school and “make everyone feel involved in it,” says Adidas campus agent Alexis Kwan.

Kwan, a sophomore studying political science, explains that her role is to make the brand more recognizable to the student body. She does this by representing some form of Adidas apparel each day — her friends even poke fun at her and comment, “Look who’s wearing Adidas again.”

“I don’t think there has been a day I have gone to class without wearing my Adidas sneakers,” says Kwan. “They are just so comfortable, and I love being able to wear them and feel a part of the brand.”

More than a brand

Being a campus agent is about more than just the clothes for her. Kwan is using her role to be creatively involved with something on campus.  

“I wanted to be involved with Adidas because one of its main slogans is ‘here to create,’” says Kwan. “If I am going to be a campus ambassador for something, I want to be able to have a say in it. I want to be able to create my own events, ideas and plans to get students involved.”

Before diving into any event planning, her first order of business is to determine how her fellow students perceive different athletic brands, especially now that the University has a contract with Adidas.

ASU announced its relationship with Adidas in June 2017 as a “strategic partnership” that will combine the school’s resources with the company’s outreach abilities, according to the ASU Now webpage. The Adidas North America President Mark King says students will have the opportunity to explore ideas of “diversity, sustainability and human potential” through this affiliation.

Despite recent charges against an Adidas executive for allegedly participating in a college basketball bribery case, Adidas Brand Ambassadors have retained their partnership with the company at the time of publication.

Although Adidas has had ASU student representatives in the past, this is the first year this specific program is on campus.  

The company worked with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to create this new and improved program at universities around the nation, says Paige Parker, ASU’s other Adidas campus agent. 

Parker, a business sports and media studies major in her junior, says this program is meant to help students personally connect to the brand campus-wide, rather than only associating it with student athletes.

“We are an Adidas school, and it’s cool to be able to see students wearing it,” says Parker. “The direction we want to go in is building a better affinity for the brand — recognition and brand awareness.”

Parker was inspired to apply for the campus agent program after visiting Barcelona, Spain. She says she was fascinated by the culture and sport of the city as the brand had a large presence among the general population.

Parker says her love for the brand stems from its timelessness.

She says she wants to collaborate with other student organizations and the school’s sports teams to help people understand what Adidas is all about.

“Alexis and I are really lucky to be able to live the brand by being able to wear the brand. ... It is ingrained in who we are,” says Parker. “We are always challenging ourselves to be better and are striving to think creatively and differently than others.”

Beyond athletic wear

 Student representatives for Express can be found among the student body as well.

The program known as ExpressU is an initiative taking place at universities across the nation. It is the company’s way of “bringing the Express brand voice to life,” according to the Youth Marketing Connection website.

The student ambassadors bring brand awareness to the ASU campus through social media. They post about Express looks they pull together to show their audience purchase considerations and outfit ideas.

“I feel like I represent the brand well especially because of my age,” says ExpressU campus ambassador Mari Nelson. “I think this brand really caters to those in their twenties and young professionals.”

Nelson, a broadcast journalism major in her senior year, heard about the Express university program after being approached by someone who thought her social media content was a “good fit” for the job.

She says she was drawn to the Express brand because it has a range of looks that fit her day-to-day life.

“It not only has going out and everyday clothes, but professional clothes too,” says Nelson. “For my internships that I need to dress professionally for, it has really nice work dresses, skirts, pants, blazers.”

She describes the company’s professional wear as “classy but trendy,” saying it still allows her to feel her age.

Chad Hayes, another ASU ExpressU Campus Ambassador, praises the brand’s focus on professionalism as well, but as it regards to men’s wear

“I have to dress professionally for my job as the building manager of the Memorial Union,” says Hayes, a junior studying computer information systems. “(Express) is really good with professionalism for men, but also has trendy, casual clothing I can wear to class.

He says being a campus ambassador is about representing the brand well and “showing everyone what Express is about” through events and promotions.

Hayes says the ASU ExpressU Campus Ambassadors achieve this by hosting bi-weekly events on campus, such as having a tailgate booth on game day to excite students and help them get to know the brand and their peers that represent it.

The campus representatives wear Express clothes on a “day-to-day” basis as well and take pictures to post on social media.

Express and Adidas are not the only brands represented at ASU. The companies working with students are not only pushing their own content, but creating community around the campus as well. 

Nelson says she gets to connect to her college community as an ExpressU campus ambassador. It allows her to be more immersed in the student body and vocalize her thoughts, especially in regard to style.

“Being an Express Partner (ambassador) means being a connection. It is my way to be involved with my community and share my own ideas,” says Nelson. 


Reach the reporter at eataylo3@asu.edu or follow @emily_a_taylor on Twitter.

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