A new feathered fleet is hitting the road this year and they’re turning heads with eye-catching vehicle wraps. Known as “Road Hawks”, these AACC student drivers hope to inspire others in their branded Riverhawk cars and by sharing their personal college experiences.
Employing student ambassadors is an intentional shift in advertising strategy to help carry the college’s presence even farther into the community through a more student-centric, grassroots approach. Arundel Community College recently contracted with Carvertise, a Delaware startup that hires and pays drivers to have their vehicles wrapped with advertising. The new campaign is more cost effective than traditional forms of outdoor advertising.
“With highway billboards you don’t get the same impact you do with using real students on the road,” explained Dan Baum, executive director of Strategic Communications. “This strategy also amplifies our digital presence because we are able to layer in social media contests and promotions both with the drivers and the public.”
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits is that 40 percent of money spent on the campaign goes back into students’ pockets. Each driver is paid $100 per month just for running local errands and doing their normal commutes. Additional driving is not expected beyond what they regularly do. Students say the extra money pays off.
“This camera lens was bought with the first check,” said Road Hawk James Katzaman who is going to school for a degree in media production. “Technically it’s buying my supplies for school.”
“It helps with gas, because I drive about 90 miles a day for work,” said Tasha Lee who is among the ten Road Hawk drivers with a unique story to tell. She is a mother of three currently working towards her certificate in database administration.
“I’m up in age, but I’m still learning. I tell my kids that all the time… you can never stop learning,” she said.
As an adult student working full time, she loves the affordability and, most importantly, the flexibility of taking AACC’s online classes.
“I mostly take online classes because I work full time. I love the online experience. I do pretty well and manage to keep my GPA up considering it’s been a long time since I’ve been in high school,” said Lee.
Carvertise has been working with several higher education clients, but recently expanded into Anne Arundel County with the new AACC partnership.
“We are thrilled to partner with such a forward thinking organization like AACC. We love how enthusiastic the students are about promoting their own school,” said Carvertise Co-founder Greg Star.
The company worked with AACC to handpick qualified drivers based on a set criteria such as driving record, vehicle condition and overall compatibility. As a 100% commuter campus, there was no shortage of qualified drivers. Since the drivers don’t travel a fixed route like buses, the company is able to provide valuable metrics on campaign performance such as average mileage, estimated impressions and coverage areas. The timeframe of the campaign is 12 months from July 2019 to June 2020. If community members see a car, they’ll want to snap a photo or take a selfie and then share and tag the college on social media. They could be eligible for one of the social media photo contest prizes!
“I’m not a big attention person so it’s a little weird for me. I get a lot of stares and I forget that the car is wrapped so I have to get use to that,” said Lee who adds that her neighbors really like it! “All of them have really complimented the car and I get a lot of questions about the college.”
If you’re out bird watching, you might spot a Road Hawk in a neighborhood, shopping center parking lot or on an AACC campus this fall. The branded cars are hard to miss!