Why students are just as important in 2017


Seed will be taking to the YMS stage alongside fashion powerhouse ASOS, sharing their insights into the impact of empowering your audience and some of the secrets behind the hugely successful ASOS Blank Canvas global campaign.

Ahead of YMS, Celia Forshew, Founder of Seed, talks all things student marketing...


Are students more relevant to brands in 2017 than ever before?

Well I’m biased, but actually yes they really are.

As heavy contributors to social channels and early adopters of many disruptive products, students are a very influential audience on each other but also the wider world. Unlike most markets, they are also ‘targetable’ on campus and digital, so as marketers move to a more audience specific approach, this is making this market more attractive. You also can’t ignore their spending power. Experian recently reported student spending has risen to £30bn a year, projecting £37bn by 2020.

Finally, some brilliant campaigns have come out of the student marketing industry in the last few years, so I think brands are becoming much more excited by what is possible.

How much of student marketing revolves around key points in the university calendar?

Depending on your brand or product there are definitely some major opportunities in the year, including Freshers/Back to School, key loan periods and so on. However, where relevant, we also take a more always on approach, threading our clients into everyday student life – at home, at sports games, around the exam period etc.

How has the role of a Student Brand Ambassador evolved over the past few years?

It’s by no means a new concept anymore, but they are a lot more sophisticated than they used to be! Students standing outside libraries handing out flyers isn’t good enough anymore. The best campaigns look at how they can enhance student lives, offering a reciprocal relationship, as opposed to a one-way sell.

One of the big challenges can be tracking and optimising the work that your Student Brand Managers are doing - which is why Seed have developed our proprietary tracking software - Mission Manager - to make sure that our brand manager teams are fully supported and doing the best job possible. It also means we can accurately report back to the client.

What was the best campaign you worked on in 2016 and why?

That’s like asking a mother which one of her children is her favourite! We’re so proud of every campaign that we do, but perhaps one that jumps to mind is one of our newer clients, ASOS, from whom we created a new global student campaign for Back to School this year called 'Blank Canvas'. We’ll be presenting it alongside ASOS at YMS when we’ll tell you all about it.
What’s the key to creating a campaign that students / young people really care about?

We always employ a ‘two client’ approach – believing that the best campaigns benefit the brand and the student. This doesn't need to be something worthy, but does require the brand and us to really challenge themselves to think, will this actually cut through the noise and strike a chord. Too often brands fail to achieve this and students are quick to call out what they think is inauthentic or cynical.

One of our solutions to this is for every campaign we pitch, we work with our network of 10,000 influential students to develop and test our concepts.

Have you incorporated/got plans to incorporate VR, AR or new tech into your marketing campaigns?

We always have our ear to the ground for opportunities to embrace new tech, but we won’t throw it into a campaign unless it’s really going to enhance the outcome. That said, we’re very interested in the possibilities that Facebook Live presents and we’re exploring for a couple of clients what exciting things can be done with the new GoPro Omni 360 VR this year.

And finally a few fun questions...

What’s been the best moment of your career so far?

This year has definitely been a great one for Seed. We've had some major wins for the agency including ASOS, Adobe and Amazon (we do have clients that don’t begin with the letter A by the way) and the chance to take several of our clients to other territories including Australia, US and mainland Europe. So I’m pleased to say this year has been the best moment of my career.

What’s your favourite app and why?

Outside of our app clients of course… it would be a joint win between Citymapper and Uber - both make London a more excellent and accessible place to live. I also really enjoy the way they utilise their platforms to connect with their audience i.e. the recent Citymapper 'strike safe' routes and the Uber 'Christmas Tree' campaign.

Something few people know about you?

I was once the Student Mayor of Richmond. I shan't elaborate.

What are you most looking forward to at YMS?

I’m looking forward to meeting lots of interesting people from both the agency and client worlds. We’ll be present throughout the event, so please don’t hesitate to come and find us at the Seed area. I also enjoy just walking around the event, taking it all in, seeing the best examples of work and the implementation of new technologies.

Haven't got your tickets for YMS LDN 2017 yet? Head on over to our event page for more information on the biggest youth marketing conference in Europe.