Asos puts its brand in students' hands

By Rosie Baker | 13 May 2014

Asos is handing its brand over to 20 student 'brand ambassadors'. Their mission? To raise the profile of the brand among university communities and convert the student masses to the online fashion brand. Asos hopes the students will also become the teachers and be able to preach to the converted - i.e its staff.

In February Asos launched a scheme inviting Australian students to apply to be campus brand ambassadors to spread the word about Asos. It has now selected 20 people who will drive marketing activations, local content and word of mouth marketing.

It has trained them up in the brand's tone of voice and is letting them loose on their campus communities to get more hip young things signed up to the site, receive its newsletters and buy its stuff.

The student ambassadors have all been given a budget and a brand toolkit, but what they do with it is up to them. They are charged with engaging the local campus, creating content and localising brand messages.

Jo Shapland, Asos Australia senior marketing manager, told AdNews: “We just thought it was very authentic. We pride ourselves on being in tune with our 20-something audience but as much as we feel we know how to talk to them you can't get any closer to the demographic than by using the demographic. We can tap into that audience so much better by using the peer group and learn a lot from it.”

Another benefit is that it offers Asos a face-to-face, real world touch point with consumers - something it lacks as a pureplay online retailer, she said,

The impact of the ambassadors will be measured on a number of KPIs including increased registrations and traffic as well as softer measures around social engagement.

It's a year-long ambassadorship, and at the end of it one of the students will receive an eight week internship in the fashion company’s marketing and brand team, spending time in the Sydney, New York and London offices.

Shapland would like to make the scheme an annual program and, while she makes no promises, says that if Asos Australia is in a position to further grow its marketing team, it would love to offer a permanent role to one of its candidates. She said it “feels right for Asos to support digital, content and marketing specialists” adding that the program is a “great breeding ground for young talent”.

Asos has doubled its marketing team in the last few months and now has nine people working across marketing and editorial content. Asos rarely advertises but says as its competitors ramp up messaging, it has to consider its own output to keep up.

Shapland said: “We don't approach marketing in a mainstream way, but in a very Asos way. It's very content-oriented. We pride ourselves on how we drive natural advocacy. We've done an amazing job and we've done it with barely any advertising. It demonstrates that there are other ways of growing our base. Increasingly our competitors are proactively communicating, though, so we're always reviewing that.”

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