FW Magazine/Web site joins with sponsors on cross-country campus blitz

FW OmniMedia and a host of sponsors embarked on a cross-promotional tour of college and university campuses this month, to bring live DJ events directly to students across the country.

FW OmniMedia and a host of sponsors embarked on a cross-promotional tour of college and university campuses this month, to bring live DJ events directly to students across the country.

Two tour buses are visiting more than 30 campuses in a party-tour designed to promote FW Magazine, Web site and FW Direct e-mail publication, together with Bacardi, Ford of Canada, Bell Mobility, Sony PlayStation and Lycra/Dupont.

The FW crew consists of 22 young models and actors who were thrown together to live on the two buses throughout the tour. As an added twist, the entire tour is being watched live by viewers across the country on reality Web TV at www.myfw.com.

The tour, which was timed to meet the back-to-school market, kicked off in Fredericton Sept. 11 and will conclude in Vancouver Sept. 30. During the first week, Montreal received the best turnout with 3,000 visitors. It is estimated that more than half a million students will participate in the tour in total.

As a result of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Sept. 11, the first evening party was cancelled, and a discussion-group element was added to subsequent campus visits. However, the tour dates were not altered.

The event was designed to boost readership within the highly competitive youth magazine market. ‘We have done a lot of different advertising over the years and we always find that face-to-face marketing is the most tangible way to get a message across,’ says Jonathan Bogo, publisher of FW Magazine.

‘We didn’t want to come out with just another ordinary marketing tour, so this is a really creative way of promoting the magazine and getting people to sign up to FW Direct.’

Campuses were chosen as the ideal location to reach the core demographic. ‘Within a five-mile radius you’ve got 5,000 people all just about to enter our target zone,’ says Bogo. ‘We are focusing on the 18-34 age group so this is the time to communicate with them.’

At each port of call, crew members, known as campus players, visit the campus during the day to interact with students. Students are then invited to a party in the evening, featuring renowned DJs Q Burns, Abstract Message and Buck 65, as well as local DJs from the host cities.

Campus players join in all the partying and give away freebies from the various sponsors, including Bacardi doorhangers and Sony PlayStation T-shirts and games. DKNY jeans and Bell Mobility cell phones are also offered as competition prizes during the events. Students are issued with campus packs, consisting of FW Magazines, inserts, CDs and further sponsor giveaways.

Viewers to the Web site are able to watch the party and evening events as well as activities on the bus. The Web TV element was designed and produced in-house.

An advertising campaign was formed around the tour, including a campus poster campaign and campus newspaper buys. The creative consists of an image of the campus players forming a pyramid beside one of the tour buses. It also features the sponsor logos, tour dates and information about the event.

The tour was also promoted within FW’s magazine which has a readership of 60,000 and via the e-mail network which has a database of 20,000 names. An average of 2,000 new e-mail addresses are being collected at each campus during the tour. All of these students will be entitled to a free trial subscription to the magazine.

The sponsors were all carefully chosen to tie in with the FW brand and to appeal to the student demographic.

‘We only went after the biggest and the best brands because we are putting our money next to theirs,’ says Bogo. ‘One of our aims is to get the word out about our advertising partners and their products and to collect research for them.’ People signing up to the FW e-mail service are required to answer market research questions.

The sponsorship partners, which all have longstanding relationships with FW Magazine, also stand to benefit from exposure during the tour and from a six-month ad campaign which will follow the event.

Lycra Canada is using the tour to promote its individual clothing items by providing gear for the crew to wear.

‘The student market segment is the biggest consumer of jeans with lycra, so it made sense to join this event,’ says Valerie Mackie, marketing manager for Lycra Canada.

According to Kevin Zimic, manager of sponsorship and national marketing programs at Ford of Canada, the tour is also a useful way to boost the Ford brand to the younger generation. ‘We think that music is a very relevant way to communicate to kids on campus, and this a great opportunity to put a large brand on display,’ he says.

‘It’s a good way for us to gain exposure in a group that is outside our standard consumer group.’

The tour, which cost FW half a million dollars, looks set to become a regular event, with plans already underway for a repeat performance in March. ‘It is going to be a huge part of our ongoing marketing plan,’ says Bogo. ‘We hope to repeat it twice every year.’

The tour was produced and managed by event PR company, Emerge Entertainment. All media-buying was conducted in-house.