Before there were social media influencers and micro-influencers, there were campus brand ambassadors — college students who are hired to help with a brand's marketing initiatives at their individual schools. One brand that employs many of these reps is Pink, the Victoria's Secret line (now a separate entity) targeting a younger demographic.
Not unlike being an influencer, being a Pink Nation Ambassador, as the company calls them, has its perks. And this past weekend, 100 of them from all over the country got a pretty major one: They boarded a giant pink bus from LAX to a secret location, which was revealed to be the "Pink Nation Motel," a Palm Springs hotel transformed into a seriously adorable and immensely Instagrammable Pink wonderland. Everything was pink: the custom sign outside, the traffic cones keeping the public out of the hotel, the Solo cups (used only for nonalcoholic beverages), the pool towels, the float toys, the giant bus that housed a Pink pop-up shop and the $100 gift cards everyone received. A few members of the press were invited from Los Angeles, and while I had a great time, too — especially when I got mistaken for someone young enough to be in college — the weekend was not for us; it was for the ambassadors.
To up the Instagrammability quotient and give them another surprise, Pink spokesmodel and general ray of sunshine Grace Elizabeth came by to ride ATVs, take lots of adorable photos, shoot promos for this years Victoria's Secret runway show (hmm, still taking place in Shanghai?) and, most importantly, meet the girls.
"Pink is for that cheeky, fun college girl and all these girls here are that. They’re all wearing their Pink leggings and Pink bras and are really supportive of everything we do and of me," said Elizabeth before joining them at a pool party on Saturday. "I would like to talk to them about what it means to be strong and confident and what Pink's all about. Pink's about girl power and sticking together, but I think they get that."
Last weekend wasn't Elizabeth's first rodeo partying with college girls; she made an appearance at a similar trip to Cancun during Spring Break. "I never had a spring break growing up, so it was amazing, but it wasn't very one-on-one," she said. "I got to throw gifts out to people and I got to take photos with them, but here I get to bond with the girls."
Pink employs two reps at over 100 schools. Incentivized with products and events like the Palm Springs trip, they are responsible for planning three to five events per semester and running four social media accounts. ("Be an on-campus social media influencer" is actually one of the responsibilities listed on the Pink ambassador website.) The application involves sending in a video of yourself talking about why you want to be an ambassador and providing a peek inside your life at school.
While the girls certainly left Palm Springs with some free swag and prime content for their Instagrams — I overheard a few of them chatting about how nice it is to be around people who share an understanding of the importance of creating content — a few I spoke with were more concerned with what being a Pink ambassador meant for their careers. "[I'm] getting experience in the marketing field, because that was my major, then learning about a company that's so big it's known worldwide — to see how they market their products," said Judith, who just graduated from University of Toledo. "You get a lot of freedom to grow your skills that you want to grow," added Alexis, an incoming senior at University of Nebraska - Lincoln.
So while the weekend may have been little more than an influencer training ground for some (next stop: actual Coachella!), many of the girls clearly took their ambassadorships seriously. For girls who don't live in a city like New York or Los Angeles, it's an opportunity to gain relevant job experience where internships aren't as plentiful. And in 2017, that they are also improving their social media skills and creating some good Instagram content in the process certainly can't hurt their careers — and from a marketing perspective, it doesn't hurt for Victoria's Secret either.