Brands and corporations have been aligning themselves with student bodies for a long time...offering book prizes, scholarships, exclusive internship opportunities etc… Nobody ever complains as these schemes benefit the students and are likely to influence their job opportunities after gathering these accolades.
In recent years we’ve been seeing more marketers willing to work with schools in several different ways - sponsoring competitions, giving out bursaries etc. Business schools have their sales, branding, and marketing competitions, (Think ‘The Apprentice’ on slightly smaller less glamorous scale). Creative outlets have also been holding competitions looking out for their next protégé.
Mastercard, Microsoft, Toyota, Nestle, Yahoo and Vidal Sasson, to name just a few, are some of the brands out there who are capitalising on young, untapped energy and talent.
Perhaps I am a little to harsh and skeptical here, but I can’t help but wonder if this is the new route brands are taking - capitalizing on students' ideas as a cheaper alternative to consultancy firms.
“Hmmm I could hire a consultancy or an agency to work on my next branding campaign, but why don’t I try to see if any of the marketing, design or tech students out there can create ideas to lift my brand from obscurity? Or even better, get them to develop a programme that will make my new product less susceptible to hackers and the likes?” Executive A thinks.
Executive B continues, “Perhaps they are can be very run of the mill and unexciting but some can be a little more innovative and daring, we don’t have to pay them gazillions, just offer them a prize, an internship, a token sum for their efforts.”
“In fact, I can get a couple of schools to take part in it. Wow!!! Think of the potential of many ideas from students. It’d be like a pitch, free ideas galore!!” Executive C shrieks.
“ And that is not all, we can get publicity too for our CSR efforts!!” Executives A, B, and C chime in unison.
But there's a sliver of truth in it isn’t there… when companies move in favour to support communities and students, other than the fact that the students benefit from the relationship, these marketers are likewise banking in on students’ “eagerness” to be associated with the brand.
Perhaps as budgets get slashed and marketers are told to cut costs, more student activities woill be held across the island as the services of such young, talented individuals are procured for the “simple want for the better good”.