National soup and sandwich café chain Panera Bread in September launched a college ambassador program for the 2011 Fall semester at eight colleges across the country including Boston University, University of Cincinnati, University of Michigan, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, Ohio State University, Purdue and University of Wisconsin. The brand hired four students at each school to act as brand ambassadors or “Breaducators,” as they’re known internally. They are each responsible for staging six events throughout the semester, and though the brand provides support and samples, the students plan, promote and create each activation. The goal is to build a network of on-campus students who can deliver peer-to-peer marketing for the brand long-term and help Panera develop life long relationships with young consumers.
The program ties into the local Panera stores and is tracked partly based on sales figures in the market and impression rates among the student body. The students were chosen based on their existing social networks and on the marketing proposals they submitted during the competitive selection process. The brand provided a “menu” of activation tactics that the students were able to choose from as they built their plans. The menu included social events, sampling programs, charity fundraisers and sponsorships, for example.
“We wanted to drive engagement with the growing college market and deepen relationships with that community,” Brandi Gangel, senior marketing manager at Panera, told Buzz. “As they continue to grow into their adult lives, we want to establish a relationship with them early on. This is a potential long-term investment, but it’s about building long-term relationships, too.” Agency: Team Epic, Norwalk, CT.