Airline markets to Elis

Yalies who pride themselves on their charm will soon have a chance to use it to market airfares — and get paid for it.

American Airlines, which posted a job opening for a campus marketing intern on Friday, is the first airline to publicize such a position to students, Yale Student Employment Manager Matthew Long said. AA officials said the job opening is part of an expansion of a student marketing program that now encompasses 40 colleges, including Harvard, Princeton, MIT and Stanford. Long said the job will be a boon for students interested in marketing, but some students said AA’s efforts may become just another unwelcome nuisance.

AA spokesman Tim Wagner said the student selected for the position — who will earn an hourly wage of $12.25 to $12.50 — will organize product and brand-awareness campaigns, enroll students in the airline’s AAdvantage rewards program and market travel on the airline to groups of students and individuals. AA’s marketing strategy on American campuses is an opportunity for the company to reach out to potential employees as well as an opportunity to attract new long-term customers, Wagner said.

“It is something that works, and it is one of the ways that we reach out to students,” he said. “We want them to become loyal to our product right now, [and] as business people in the future, they will be familiar with AA and American Eagle.”

While this face to face marketing strategy for airlines might be new to the Yale campus, other colleges have seen this form of advertisement before. Last November, a Harvard campus representative for JetBlue offered free JetBlue flights to Harvard students who agreed to wear blue shirts and shout “Go Blue!” in response to “Go What?” The timing of the publicity stunt prompted widespread speculation that it was an actually an Eli prank meant to coincide with the lead-up to the Harvard-Yale football game.

But some students said they do not think the program will be successful because students are more concerned with the price of their ticket than the airline they fly.

“There is no reason why you would listen to another student who is hired by the company to market it,” Carmen Lee ’09 said. “A lot of students aren’t necessarily buying their ticket, and their choice if they are is to save on cost.”

Hassan Siddiq ’08 said AA’s on-campus marketing efforts will not affect most students’ traveling habits, including his own. He hopes AA’s marketing presence on campus will not encourage other airlines and companies to adopt similar marketing strategies.

“I would say OK, yeah I’ll look into it, but I don’t think many students will pay attention to that [campaign],” he said. “Even now when you are sitting in the dining hall, people come up asking you to fill out School of Management surveys, so if somebody starts trying to sell these products it would be quite an annoying activity.”

While AA will become the first airline to hire a campus representative, Dell and Apple already offer similar positions to students, Long said.

STA Travel spokeswoman Christi Day said on-campus marketing efforts are becoming increasingly popular among companies as the best way to reach students directly. While some college students are exposed to advertising from television and newspapers, she said, many do not have much time to watch TV, which makes a face to face advertising campaign particularly worthwhile.

“It is something we will see more and more in the future,” she said. “I think it comes from the fact that students are on a time crunch. It is a new, evolving medium for advertising.”

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