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It’s a known fact that Gen Z doesn’t respond very well to traditional advertising. 

Gen Z skips 82% of ads as quickly as possible.

The main problem with it is that it doesn’t feel authentic

And it feels that way to Gen Z because they grew up being bombarded with ads and looking at fake advertising. 

Of course, this made them distrust advertising.

Student ambassador programs were created to market to college students and people in that demographic in a way that feels more authentic than traditional advertising.

By partnering with college students, brands are able to promote their products through trusted faces to their target market.

Let’s define exactly what a student ambassador program is.

What is a student ambassador program

A college ambassador program is when an organization invites college students to represent a brand on college campuses and participate in promotional tasks in exchange for rewards.

So, it’s basically a brand ambassador program but with college students.

The idea is to build a community of your brand fans on college campuses and incentivize them to complete tasks that increase brand awareness and sales, among other things.

These tasks can be the creation of social media content (UGC) or in-person tasks like hosting brand events, handing out flyers, etc.

And for the rewards, they can be anything from cash, free products, commissions, discounts, store credit, points, exclusive experiences, perks, or a combination of several methods.

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So how would this look for you?

Take a look at these example tasks:

  • Post a picture with our products on Instagram using our brand hashtag: #ExampleHashtag and get $5.
  • Earn a 10% commission from every purchase made with your unique link: (unique affiliate link).
  • Host our official tasting event on campus and earn 10,000 points, which you can then exchange for the product you choose or cash.

Now, let’s take a look at real examples from successful student ambassador programs so you get an idea of what you can do.

Shein campus ambassador program

Apparel brand, Shein, has one of the most successful student ambassador programs out there.

Their program works in a very simple way.

Students simply need to apply on Shein’s website by giving some information about themselves.

Then, the brand reviews the applications and selects the ones that are a good fit for the program.

Once approved, ambassadors get a unique code they can share with whoever and whenever they want.

Then, ambassadors get a commission from every purchase made using their code.

Plus, Shein does a great job at creating a supportive community where ambassadors get other exclusive perks in addition to the commissions.

These perks include:

  • Internship opportunity
  • Mentorship program
  • Special giveaways
  • Invitation to exclusive events

Recommended: How to Recruit Student Ambassadors

Blue Delta Jeans college athlete ambassador program

Blue Delta Jeans was one of the first brands to offer a NIL deal to college athletes after the NCAA ruling that allows them to receive compensation for their (Name, Image, and Likeness).

Essentially letting them get paid through brand sponsorships.

In this case, Blue Delta Jeans offered a deal to the entire Ole Miss Football Team.

The players that accepted received a $450 custom pair of jeans, in exchange for at least one social media post per month for 5 months.

But not only that, players also got a unique code that they can share with whenever they want, and for every time it’s used, they receive $100.

Finally, for every 20 jeans sold with their code, they receive an extra pair of custom jeans.

College athlete ambassador programs are very new to the marketing world, but it’s a huge opportunity for brands that are becoming very popular fast.

If you’re also interested in partnering with college athletes, Blue Delta Jeans is a great example to learn from. 

Coca Cola student ambassador program 

Coca Cola, the beverage giant also has a very successful ambassador program. 

Coca Cola has hired many campus reps across North America and they’re not slowing down.

For this program, students have the opportunity to earn up to $2,000 per school year for around 20 hours of work per month.

In those 20 hours, campus reps have to participate in the following tasks:

  • 5-7 sampling events on campus
  • Promote Coca-Cola on their personal social media
  • Attend regular meetings with local bottlers, other ambassadors, and the College & University team at Coca-Cola North America
  • Promote sustainable actions and share Coca-Cola’s vision for a World Without Waste
  • Build relationships with key stakeholders on campus and identify ways to improve Coca-Cola’s presence

Another good thing about Coca Cola’s program is that they provide their ambassadors with virtual training.

Training ambassadors is a great idea because it prepares them for their role, which makes programs consistent and effective. 

Pearson campus ambassador program

Pearson, the education publisher, is another brand that markets to college students, through over 70 campus leaders across the country.

Some of the tasks ambassadors participate in are:

  • Commit 5-10 hours per week
  • Do demos and presentations about Pearson’s technology products
  • Create activities and opportunities that help students use Pearson products
  • Collect feedback from students 
  • Work with Pearson to promote products, inform the development of products, provide feedback on marketing campaigns, and more
  • Attend in conference calls, trainings, and team meetings

In exchange for these tasks, Pearson campus ambassadors receive:

  • $10 per hour
  • Free digital products

As you can see from these examples, there are many ways of paying ambassadors.

You can pay an hourly wage like Pearson, offer free products, commissions, or any method that is attractive for college students for the tasks you will be asking.

It’s all up to you. 

Kendra Scott college ambassador program

Jewelry brand, Kendra Scott, has campus reps, or “Gems”, in many campuses across the US. 

Some of the activities Gems participate in are promoting Kendra Scott on campus through events, social media, and more.

In exchange, brand ambassadors get the following benefits:

  • Resume enhancement
  • Career boosting experience
  • Jewels to share with friends and other influencers on campus  
  • Exclusive discount
  • Opportunities to win prizes  

Kendra Scott’s program is a great reminder that college students are looking for real professional experience to improve their Resume.

Once they leave college, they can have proven experience working for an important brand.

And that is very valuable.

So, don’t forget to offer opportunities to help students advance their careers.

Key takeaways

There are two main things you should keep in mind from this article. The first one is that student ambassador programs are effective tactics to reach a demographic that doesn’t like traditional advertising, Gen Z.

Students trust other students because, generally, their opinions about products are genuine. 

And since ambassadors are genuine fans of the brands they represent, their promotion feels authentic.

The other key takeaway is that campus ambassador programs are super flexible. 

What we mean by this is that there are many ways a program can work. 

They can be high-touch or low-touch, you can pay through commissions, cash, products, or other methods, you can assign online and offline tasks, you can have one ambassador or thousands.

So don’t be afraid to be creative when designing your strategy.

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