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The Almighty Buck Businesses

Use of Student Plants to Pitch Products Rising 274

Posted by Zonk
from the tattoo'd-with-the-adult-swim-logo dept.
theodp wrote to mention a Seattle PI article about software and niche companies using college-age hucksters to get the word about their product out. From the article: "Microsoft is among a growing number of companies seeking to reach the elusive but critical college market by hiring students to be ambassadors -- or, in more traditional terms, door-to-door salesmen. In an age when the college demographic is no longer easily reached by television, radio or newspapers -- as TiVo, satellite radio, iPods and the Internet crowd out the traditional advertising venues -- a microindustry of campus marketing has emerged. Niche firms have sprung up to act as recruiters of students, who then market products on campus for companies such as Microsoft, JetBlue Airways, The Cartoon Network and Victoria's Secret."
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Use of Student Plants to Pitch Products Rising

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  • by LeonGeeste (917243) * on Sunday October 30, 2005 @12:38AM (#13907534) Journal
    Please confine all "clever" jokes about female college students promoting Victoria's Secret products to this thread and this thread only. Thank you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 30, 2005 @12:40AM (#13907537)
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
  • by assassinator42 (844848) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @12:43AM (#13907547)
    Make your stuff cheaper. In all the colleges/universities. This idea is more for Microsoft, since I don't want Cartoon Network to make their shows cheaper.
    • by max born (739948) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @01:34AM (#13907699)
      Title 15, chapter 2, sec 13a of the US Code (Part of the The Clayton Antitrust Act [stolaf.edu]) says it's illegal to:

      to sell, or contract to sell, goods at unreasonably low prices for the purpose of destroying competition or eliminating a competitor.
      • I think there's a difference between "unreasonably low prices" and "prices students can afford".

        Clearly, if they have to be that low for students to buy the stuff, there's a reason for lowering prices. Unless they're making a huge loss on every sale.

      • If you look at the competition

        OS: Linux
        Office Suite: OpenOffice

        Wouldn't they be considered to be breaking that code since they are offering it as "free" compared to Microsoft's prices. I'm not sure if that's a reasonable or unreasonable price, but I can't really see how any price could be more unreasonable besides giving money to take the software.

        Unless Microsoft is offering their software below "free", I don't think this law would stick
      • by rfc1394 (155777) <Paul@paul-robinson.us> on Sunday October 30, 2005 @09:51AM (#13908626) Homepage Journal
        Title 15, chapter 2, sec 13a of the US Code (Part of the The Clayton Antitrust Act) says it's illegal to:

        to sell, or contract to sell, goods at unreasonably low prices for the purpose of destroying competition or eliminating a competitor.

        No, the law says it's illegal to discriminate in price for that reason, it does not matter whether the price is lower or not. This means that selling for a higher price (you must have an illegal monopoly or you couldn't get a higher price), a lower price (you are selling for less to run competitors out of business), or even the same price (which is price fixing) can all be considered a violation of law. Yeah, you got it right, technically any sale at all at any price could, theoretically be in violation of the Clayton Act since, supposedly one wants to make sales which can then eliminate competitors.
    • by mister_llah (891540) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @01:56AM (#13907755) Homepage Journal
      Microsoft does make signifigant student discounts, though they certain could make more, Office is still quite expensive for those of us who are broke.

      I'd love to see *ADOBE* really cut their prices for students... God forbid an graphic design student actually want to buy a copy of Photoshop...
      • Are you stupid? Education pricing on the Premium Creative Suite is $400 compared to $1200 normally. Seems like a significant discount to me...
        • Adobe discounts from $599 to $299 for a student copy of Photoshop currently. While that's a good discount, I think it's still too expensive.
        • "Are you stupid" ... not a good way to start, old bean.

          ===

          I'll explain my position a bit, so you can see where I am coming from.

          So, let's assume gas was $100 a gallon.

          Then someone made a discount to take it down to $25...

          Yes, the MARGIN of decrease looks good, but the original value (and as such, the discounted value) is still excessively inflated.

          ===

          IMHO, if people are saying that Microsoft charges an arm and a leg, they are missing that companies like Adobe are charging all limbs and a head.
  • I've tried marketing voting at a University, and people weren't interested. The problem was I wasn't handing out ballots with a pen, and a ballot box down the hallway. Kids will take what is pushed into their hand, especially if the pusher is attractive, and they don't stand to lose money immediately on the free product. I may not be attractive enough to market democracy, but isn't it a shame that Coke and Microsoft have that kind of appeal, but the fricken government that can take your money WITHOUT tri
    • Well, there's an important factor that may or may not make this effective.

      See, most kids these days aren't really interested in voting, in part because they don't really see how it might benefit them, and because many of them are more or less disillusioned with government in general.

      On the other hand, how could you NOT be interested in Vicky's Secrets? There are obvious benefits ;-)
    • by thesandtiger (819476) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @12:50AM (#13907570)
      I don't mean to be rude, but don't you think the problem might be your attitude? You're referring to people as "the slobbering masses." I think you'd do better if you tried not insulting the people you're reaching out to.

      • I only say things like that after meeting apalling apathy for several hours from people who are supposedly the best educated people in the city, or are striving to become them. And I've been listening to Lewis Black for 2 hours, so I might be a tad over the top in my distain for ignorami :-)
        • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday October 30, 2005 @03:16AM (#13907980) Homepage Journal
          They're clearly smarter than you and recognise that the US political system has been thoroughly gamed such that it is impossible for any radical change to ever happen. You have a choice, Bob the Republician or Bob the Democrat, both of who believe the same things, but for slightly different reasons, except for the few insignificant details that should never decide the outcome of an election but innevitably do because it is impossible to change the system without first defeating it.

          Compare this to some European countries where anyone can write up a proposal for a referendum, collect signatures, submit it and their government is required by the constitution to put it to a national vote.
          • In many states, Forget the names but there are more than 20, California (where I live) is one of them anyone can do a ballot innititive, In fact the election on Nov 8th will just be innititives. The problem has become that only fairly powerful and rich folks can actualy gather enough signatures to get the bill, and then it turns into an advertizing spend-a-thon to pass or kill the bill. Then for bonus points sometimes the state won't enforce these laws, notibly the mess with medical marijuana, and my favo
    • I think the difference is that with the Government CAN take your money without marketing. When your opinion has little effect on whether or not someone can do something, and then even less effect on what happens to that money once it's gone, apathy reigns.

      Yes, I know that voting is the method to change those two things, but a lot of people see it as an 8000lbs gorilla that can and will do whatever the heck it wants.
    • Is voting in a national election even rational? There's no possible way your vote will affect the outcome, they can't even count the ballots with with that much precision. The only way to make any difference is to convince a large number of other voters.
    • by Mateito (746185) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @02:22AM (#13907832) Homepage
      Kids will take what is pushed into their hand, especially if the pusher is attractive,

      Yes, your honour, and that's how the baggie ended up in my jacket pocket.

    • ...holds no interest with the slobbering masses.
      Do you really want the slobbering masses doing even more voting than they already have been? Honestly, aren't they the idiots who landed us in this fresh hell in the first place? I remain unconvinced that getting the stupid out to the polls is actually the way to go.

      --
      "Every nation has the government it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre

    • no interest with the slobbering masses.

      Well, you don't know whether or how the people you're looking down on voted. If they didn't want to hear what you had to tell them, maybe the problem was your obnoxious attitude.

      -jcr

    • You're not going to have any luck getting them to vote. They won't even take free money.

      Seriously, our ECE honors organization [purdue.edu] has a lounge in the basement of the EE building that sells food and drinks and turns a good profit. We figure that EEs and CompEs aren't very social by nature, so every couple of weeks, we go out to a local resturant, bar, etc. and give everybody who shows up $3 to subsidize their food. The idea is to get people out of the lab and have a good time. Our student organization fin

  • Apple Campus Reps (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Apple's been doing this for years. 3 Large campus' in this Metro area all have CR's that work to promote Apple on campus. It's all about the viral marketing baby.
    • Re:Apple Campus Reps (Score:3, Informative)

      by Galileo430 (614516)
      Being part of said program. I have to say. It's a bunch of fun. I basically get paid to do everything I used to. I use Apple products in my everyday life. People used to constantly ask me about them. I'd give them any answers they wanted. None of that has changed. I just get paid now.

      Of course, I do more now too. Demo table events, talking to faculty.. some of the best stuff comes from this. You never realize how much a college has to offer until you've talked to everyone.

      My personal feeling is, while you c
    • Apple subsidizes a major film-making contest every year here at UVA. I so want to do it next year. It you have to write and shoot a film in 72 hours, using a certain phrase, and a certain prop. It has some interesting and semi-successful alumni.
    • Re:Apple Campus Reps (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dan-DAFC (545776)
      Microsoft have also been doing this for years in the UK. I had the opportunity to get involved when I was at university back in 1998. Bascially they bought off students by giving them free (as in beer) software and promotional stuff to try and get them to spread the word among their peers.
  • ... the Victoria's Secret door-to-door saleswomen, that is!
  • by pete6677 (681676) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @12:51AM (#13907572)
    It's happening already. Check out this forum [purdueonline.com] on a Purdue student messageboard. This idiot is plugging some sort of notetaking software.
  • Reminds me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @12:52AM (#13907576) Homepage
    Reminds me of an excellent book called Everybody In Silico. Basically it takes place in the future where advertising has run even further amok and people are transitioning permanently to a new cyber world.

    What reminded me was that in the book, they have people who go up and pitch things directly to other people, and they have watches that listen for audio cues, and when they've successfully pitched someone, money is deposited into an account for them.

    And while I should know this since I'm in advertising.....how do these companies make sure these kids are actually pitching? How do they know they're not just paying them to go dick around with their friends and not do anything? There's no real sort of metrics for this sort of thing nor is there much control.

  • by zappepcs (820751) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @12:55AM (#13907587) Journal
    If they have to market it on commercials, its probably not worth what you have to pay for it.

    I would think that "word of mouth" advertising would work quite a bit better if your product was worth paying for? Perhaps I'm just cynical, but I am thinking that this is no better than commercials, but you can't switch the channel...this is more "in your face"

    Arrggg I'm having memories of people selling household cleaning stuff door to door while "working their way through college" ... and then there is that other venerable vocation where most participants are 'working their way through college' (wink wink)

    Seriously, how does this help companies that already have GLOBAL brand name recognition?
    • by Mateito (746185) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @02:42AM (#13907891) Homepage
      If people only bought things that were of high quality and good value for money that they actually needed, the world economy would grind to a halt.

      Consumer based economies rely that most of the money that people earn will be spent, thus keeping allowing more things to be produced, employing more people and round and round we go. Of course, the government takes a chunk of every dollar when its earned and then again when its spent. Its fun to watch how much of a dollar goes to the goverment once its been spent and earned a couple of times.

      Times have changed since your Granpa's day. Globalisation means that this cycle is undergoing a readjustment.

      Take Wal*Mart for example. Everybody wants goods at the cheapest price, but locals want living wages. The net effect is that manufacturing is moved off-shore to produce cheaper goods that local people can buy, but as they is now less money in the local economy, there are few jobs, meaning on average have less money to spend, meaning they want even cheaper goods. There are some economists who predict that Wal*Mart will cause the biggest change in US standards of living in the history of the country.

      The trick is, of course, that we are simply shifting to a new equilibrium. If nobody has money to buy goods, Wal*Mart will suffer, so they won't let its prices drop too far. Eventually prices will stabilize to a level where local people and local industry will live in harmony with outsourcing to cheaper countries. Notably, these cheaper countries will slowly become less cheaper. Outsourced and Local wages will eventually meet in the middle (in some industries, they already have).

      I know many of us have been bitten by out-sourcing to India, but we (as a society) have shown time and again that, despite all the lip-service, saving that few dollars on the cost of weekly tinned food bill is more important that local jobs.

      You can't have the benefits of globalisation without the downsides - its part and parcel of the same model.
      • While this might be off topic, I agree with you completely. My part in that levelling process is to not buy from Wal*marts, or goods that are cheap to manufacture and stamped "Made in not-the-usa"... not really much of a protest, and I am considering the process of manufacturing some of these goods in the USA in order to help stem the tide of manufacturing jobs going overseas. While that many not be thought out completely yet, it is brewing in my head.

        Microbrewers are taking import sales in many instances.
        • BTW, buying only USA made products is not an easy chore... it should be... at least in my opinion.

          What's actually made in the USA these days? We've essentially fulfilled THAT particular Snow Crash prophecy.
          1. Software
          2. Music
          3. Movies
          4. Pizza Delivery*

          Of course, we haven't been split into a mass of corporate-owned fiefdoms yet, but that's mostly probably because none of the corporations want to limit their "markets."

          *Taken as an umbrella metaphor for "service-based" industries like landsharks^Wlawyers and conslutants r

  • by StevenMaurer (115071) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @12:55AM (#13907588) Homepage
    A guy goes into a small business convention and gets roped in by some huckster trying to get him into a Multilevel Marketing company. After sitting through his lecture about how great the opportunity is, how it's can't miss, how he can just get everyone around him to buy the company's crap at outrageous prices, and there isn't much investment, the guy gets asked "Come on! What have you got to lose?"

    His answer: "All my friends".

    "Push marketing" types, also known as salesmen, keep trying to push crap products onto people. But generally, good products sell themselves.

  • At least they're honest about selling you a product. They're not pretending they're your friend or that this is a personal cause. For the brief period of my life that I did door-to-door sales I never lied to get a sale. I didn't try to convince people that I was there to do anything less than sell them a product, service, or promotion, usually at a very competitive price. As such, I never had a door slammed on my face, or was treated disrespectfully. Thankfully I've never done telesales.. it's just way
  • I've seen them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ctrl+Alt+De1337 (837964) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @01:03AM (#13907611) Homepage
    Here at the University of Florida I've seen the Microsoft ones. They're heavily promoting OneNote, figuring college students probably would have use of note-taking software. Except that most people don't go to class, ergo they don't take notes, and those that do generally buy the note packets from local copy stores (professors put all of their slides or outlines of all of the lectures together and the stores print and bind them). There's no need for OneNote when you have the slides on paper.

    They also wrote a URL for how to download a free trial in sidewalk chalk all over campus, which is technically regarded as graffiti and as such is against campus rules. Fortunately a combination of UPD and the outer bands of Tropical Storm Tammy took care of that. I haven't seen them since.
  • Great (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 30, 2005 @01:06AM (#13907620)
    "I dream of a future where marketing has no bounds....Billboards, TV and radio commericals, fliers, even people!"
            -Satan
  • Already a term.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bananatree3 (872975) * on Sunday October 30, 2005 @01:11AM (#13907638)
    This is called Astroturf. (movements that look their grassroots, but in reality are sponsored by a company).
  • It's called a street team. Bands have been doing it for years. Nothing really all that new.
  • My roommate is a perfect example of this. He is obsessed with poker, and I get the feeling it's not out of love for the game. He buys stuff and resells it on eBay---which is OK on its own, but sometimes he'll auction off things he doesn't have, then order them from Amazon, and make it so that they ship straight to the auction winner.

    I have no doubt he would shill for money. The guy has nary a moral fiber in his body, at least when it comes to money.
    • That's called good business sense. If people are willing to pay more on ebay for something than it costs on Amazon, they deserve to be taken advantage of. "The guy has nary a moral fiber in his body" is pure bs - he's just better than you at the game we call capitalism.
    • What's wrong with shilling for money? It's a great skill to learn. Eventually you'll get out of college, and you will have to start shilling something. Even if it's just shilling yourself to an employer during an interview, it's still shilling.
    • sometimes he'll auction off things he doesn't have, then order them from Amazon, and make it so that they ship straight to the auction winner.

      That's called "Drop shipping", and there's nothing wrong with that. As long as he delivers what he sells, he's on the up-and-up. He has no duty to inform his customers that they could find a better price elsewhere.

      -jcr
    • I know a couple of guys that would make a pretty coin every graduation season selling graduation supplies (robes, diplomas, folders, whatever). Their business was very simple website on Yahoo! Stores and contacts with wholesalers. They would work out of their shared apartment, spend the day sitting at their computers, getting faxes/emails, retyping them and sending them off to the wholesaler to ship direct to the clients.

      My definition of a good deal is one where everybody is happy. The client is happy getti
  • of course, after a student had sold insurance to
      their friends & relatives, they couldn't meet
      their sales quotas... and got replaced by the
      "next generation" of student salespeople.

      History repeats itself...
  • Apple! Uck! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mister_llah (891540) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @01:53AM (#13907748) Homepage Journal
    I have seen Apple use a lot of college plants here at Northern Illinois where I go to school.

    Not only that, but I have, myself, been approached by Apple. Last year I ran a film festival for amateur film makers, they approached me about running it again, and changing it to use only Apple products and the iMovie format.

    I have heard from a couple of dissatisfied members of the Mac support group here on campus that it has become little more than a sales convention every other week when it meets.

    That same group had an event on campus called "Who is your Mac Daddy", which was basically just a tupperware party for Apple products.

    It's sick...
  • a license to shill
    (check this [userfriendly.org] if you don't know what I am talking about)
  • She was a Microsoft Rep at her school. Basically did promotions for MS- like raffle off free software/games.

    After she graduated, she tried the MS interview but didn't make the cut.

    Anyway, she had some leftover software and gave me a copy of Visual Studio. Nice but sadly, I'm an environemntal sci major.

    Grump
  • by unixbugs (654234) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @02:11AM (#13907807)
    Seriously, if some yo-yo wearing a "Go Microsoft!" shirt approached me extolling the virtues of closed source and costly maintainability, all in the name of selling me software, I would probably be the last person they accosted with their moronic and highly unintelligent slant on how great Bill Gates is.

    Now you might say that I am biased against Microsoft (where you would get this idea I don't know), but hey, consider that I have had to put up with wormy networks and teach people how to configure 14 different versions of Outlook for years. "Daaahhh.. I can't print! ...". When I made my switch (mid 90's, thanks) I had to learn a little more (how inconvenient), but at least I have a lot of free time and cash now. You have to really admire an Operating System which you can set up and forget about for months if not years at a time. I know, very inconvenient.

    The idea of sending out armies of college students to market their product is of course what one can expect from such an unscrupulous company. I wouldn't be suprised if Microsoft made these people tattoo the butterfly on their asses as a marketing ploy. At least the butterfly would get maximum exposure given the type of people who it would sport it... I know this one guy who uses his free time to write code to send to Microsoft as if anyone there likes him or even knows him. "Camel Balls" we call him, he walks around shoving his nuts out wearing pants that are too tight, ranting about how my firewall is pushing traffic out the wrong interface because someone told him how to use 'iptraf' and now he is a UNIX Expert. What a douche bag. Like alot of MCSEs he tries to tell me things about Linux and computers in general that have no basis in reality whatsoever. Incidentally he was incorrect about the firewall - he had no idea what he was looking at anyway.

    The point is, whoever comes up to me better have a nice rack or I'll ruin their day. I'm just being honest. I don't like greedy companies and I can't stand people who support them for free. WTF is that??? Just give up your free time to work for Microsoft so they can make more money off of your dumb, broke ass. Give ME a break! At least OSS is given to the WORLD, not directly to some prick's pocketbook.

    Warning: Do not mod me down or I will find you and hide a Windows ME box in the false ceiling on your network!

  • Buzz (Score:5, Informative)

    by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @02:14AM (#13907813) Homepage
    Just today I was reading a copy of a New York Times Magazine article that had a pretty similar theme. There is a company out there (I'll call it "Bzz", because I don't remember the name but Bzz is pretty close) that works with unpaid volunteer "agents" to promote its customers' brands. People sign up, get product samples, then they're given talking points and told to go out and generate buzz for the product. The agents talk to their friends, fill out suggestion cards, call supermarkets/bookstores/etc. to ask whether they carry the product.

    The reporters were surprised at how enthusiastic people were about doing unpaid work on behalf of these companies. Though Bzz offered a reward program, not many people cash in on it. The reporters came up with quite a few (mostly complementary) explanations. First, Bzz claimed that it only marketed 20% of the products that came to them, leaving the impression that their agents were only being asked to pimp the really good stuff. Then you have that eternal desire to be "in the know", to suggest a product or a restaurant to your friends and having the suggestion stick (see Linux advocacy). Finally, it seems that if you ask people to choose among basically equivalent items, when one of those items is somehow "theirs", they tend to value that item more highly. So just by giving agents a sample of the product, the marketing company can create a positive impression.

    Officially, Bzz doesn't require its unpaid agents to spin the product in a positive light. All they ask is that people talk about the product. This helps sell people on the idea of being advertisers, since they're just being asked to talk about their opinions, rather than slavishly following the party line.

    I think this is a small step up from some forms of astroturfing (for example, hiring beautiful women to go to bars and order Drink X), but not a big one. The worst part about these techniques is that they constitute an abuse of trust. Such activities allow a big corporation to sneak their "message" into what people assume to be a candid exchange of information. Whether the messengers are being paid in dollars, "points", sexual favors, or pats on the back isn't terribly relevant to me. The issue is that one party to the conversation has a hidden agenda that the other party isn't going to be on the lookout for.

    Look at it this way: the marketers advertised so incessantly at us that we mostly tuned them out. We turned instead to the people around us for information. Now the evil bastards want to exploit the one remaining source of "unbiased" information. I mean, sure we're all biased, but the point is, we're plugging for our own biases, not those of the product manufacturer. They've finally found ways to exploit our trust in each other for personal profit, and they give fuck all if they're damaging that trust as they do so. Fight this.

    The activities in the article are shameless in their own ways, but at least the targets have a better chance of discerning that the people plugging the product are paid product pluggers.
  • I think it's pretty silly that Microsoft has to resort to offbeat tactics to win more supporters. After all, if they had any quality products to offer, they would be popular without feeling the need to brainwash the next generation of leaders in the computer and buisness world, right?
    Since this is the /. community, I think it's safe to presume you're cheering.

    Oh wait, replace "Microsoft" with "Google", and that's what I meant to post...
    http://www.google.com/jobs/studentsg.html [google.com]

    (Not exactly the same,
  • by JayBees (124568) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @02:50AM (#13907921)
    At Boston University there are 2 ways to afford the tuition: scholarship, or whoring yourself to corporate America. And you don't need to keep a 3.5 GPA to whore yourself to corporate America.

    On a related note, I go to BU, and this past week, while crossing the street, I noticed a Microsoft OneNote ad chalked with a stencil on the pavement between the T tracks (the T is what Bostonians call their subway, i.e. train or tram).

    From the article: "Many [student representatives] are specially trained, sometimes at corporate headquarters, Gossett said, as in the case with Microsoft."

    The T runs above-ground through BU, but the first stop after the campus is underground. So if you are crossing the street and see this chalked advertisement (which is quite blurry and in fact barely legible, because, hey, it rains a lot in Boston and chalk runs), your natural response is to stop walking for a moment so that you can look down and and actually make out what it says. Specifically, you need to stop on the T tracks...50 feet from where the T goes above-ground. Perfect conditions for getting run over with a 20 ton subway car.

    That's some nice training, there, Microsoft.

  • Wohoo!
    I have waited for this day! Finally I can give immediate feedback to the spammer who aproaches me. Most likely in fork-in-the-eye-fashion.

    RL spammers beware: I'm one of them.
  • they're usin' greenery to sell this crap on campus nowadays? sounds damn healthy to me. i'd buy stuff from some co-ed who wanted to give me a flowering plant.
  • I believe the best advertising is still genuine word of mouth amoung your friends and associates - not paid schills who want to read you a bulleted list.

    This goes for movies, games, hardware, and software.

    The easiest way to get it is to stick your money/time not in marketing but into research/engineering/whatnot into making a great product.

    The Apple iPod is a great example of this - I heard of it from my friends as recommendations long before I've seen it advertised by the company.

    With this in mind, the pro
  • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Sunday October 30, 2005 @04:34AM (#13908114) Journal
    So how many of the people posting on Slashdot are CRs and what companies do they represent?

    It's too big a forum for marketers to ignore completely, so there'd have to be a few either monitoring or contributing. Any brave enough to come out of the closet and tell us about it?
  • by jedrek (79264) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @05:52AM (#13908242) Homepage
    Almost two years ago, I did this for Idea (now Orange) - one of Poland's 3 cellular services providers. While working for the Red Cell network, we ran this program in 8 cities on 8 campuses, with some 300-400 ambassadors working for us at once.

    The ambassadors would make a couple of bucks (I can't remember how much, I'm thinking 20PLN) for each contract they got and were able to give their clients deals they wouldn't get at the salon. There were clearly a couple of stars, people who would get 30-50 contracts/month, while a lot of them worked just enough to pay for their own cell phone usage.

    At the end of the program, a lot of the stars were offered steady work - why would we want to get rid of a good salesperson?
  • by twitter (104583) on Sunday October 30, 2005 @11:29AM (#13908908) Homepage Journal
    The Ambassador program has been going on for years at LSU. I have yet to have run into one yet, thankfully.

    Part Two of the program is a $500,0000 per year site license, as noted here [brlug.net], which brings the Microsoft Tax to everyone on campus. This is a program that eats up 1/8 of the $150/year student tech fee for the ability to download the most basic of software, productivity software, email client and this goofey one note. Someone on the thread does the math and estimates Microsoft will pocket about $300 per software set they distribute, which is well above the usual Dell rip-off. Of course, it is much much more than a download of Mepis, which has more and better applications.

    In typical Microsoft style, they are touting the rip-off as "free software". They spammed every student on campus with an email that mentioned a commitment but no costs and had the nerve to stand in the middle of free speech alley and proclaim "free" downloads. What a turn off.

    Surprisingly, it has not worked very well. People are outraged when they learn the cost. Few people want to risk their only working computer to "upgrade" software they already own, as free software advocates can tell you. Most people walked by the barkers at free speech alley and could care less. Did they really think people care about Outlook? I was one of the few people who bothered to talk to them and I agree with the BRLUG poster above, the reps were poorly trained and did not know their product. Spam backfires. Most people are going to look at the Microsoft dream play, where a fellow student tries to hawk a program, as weird and disturbing.

Everything that can be invented has been invented. -- Charles Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office, 1899

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