Where's the HYPE?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Amy Bi and Chris Reynolds

Shaun Ding

AMERICAN APPAREL, EAT YOUR HEART OUT. Communications officer Amy Bi and External Promotions Coordinator of HYPE Chris Reynolds HYPE it up on Concrete Beach. Their subdued disposition belies the energy they should be putting into the street team.

You might have seen them around campus " folks wearing trendy black T-shirts emblazoned with “FEEL THE HYPE.” Are Western students feeling the hype, or just feeling confused?

HYPE is the University Students’ Council’s new street team, the brainchild " and last year’s USC presidential campaign promise " of USC external promotions commissioner Chris Reynolds.

Although his vision has become a reality, Reynolds’ HYPE team faces a daunting challenge: reaching everyday Western students.

“[We need to] get our name out while still promoting events effectively for the USC,” Joel Read, a first-year HBA student and HYPE executive member, said.

Despite having around 100 members, Reynolds said the difficulty HYPE faces is that it began with no brand identity.

The team aims to create a recognizable brand on campus through its popular merchandise and a corporate sponsorship deal with HYPE energy drinks.

When it comes to the actual promotion of USC events, HYPE taps into “people power” through word-of-mouth, according to USC communications officer, Amy Bi.

In addition, Read said the team raises awareness of USC events through curiousity, a tactic known as “guerrilla marketing.”

The street team uses unconventional marketing strategies versus traditional posters and rave cards, such as promoting PrideWeek’s drag queen performance, B-Girlz, by wandering campus in neon, sparkly wigs.

While the team’s eventual goal is for students to attach the HYPE name to all campus events, students do not appear to be making the connection.

“If you see HYPE, you might not correlate it with what’s going on,” third-year health science student Brynn Milenkoff said.

“I could just be ignorant,” first-year arts and humanities student Ashley Smith said. “But even if I saw the shirt, I wouldn’t know what it stood for.”

Many students have noticed HYPE’s hip merchandise.

“I’ve seen a lot of girls wearing “FEEL THE HYPE” shirts,” fourth-year philosophy major Andrew Fitzpatrick observed.

But Frances Dang, a first-year science student, said, “[People] just walk around wearing cool T-shirts.” She had yet to talk to a HYPE member and was unaware they were part of the USC.

Reynolds and his team are aware of the challenges ahead.

“We don’t want to go down the road where we start promoting things and flopping,” Reynolds said.

Read explained students simply need to get used to the concept of unusual ideas.

“Right now, we’re getting the general confusion,” Read added.

To ensure its campus-wide brand recognition, the first HYPE promotional day will take place on Nov. 21.

Reynolds was hush-hush about the details, but said students can expect HYPE’s presence at various locations across campus and a charity event for the Make-a-Wish foundation.

In addition, the official HYPE website will be launched by the end of the semester with a series of informational videos, Bi said.

And, although most initiatives are currently spearheaded by HYPE executives, Read expects the general members to be mobilized next semester for bigger and better promotions.

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