Posted January 28, 2011 by Kate Strotmeyer 

Winter Kitsch: Branding with Added Itch

I market for student life and the Dudley H. Davis Center at the University of Vermont (UVM). I plan to share my perspective as a campus marketer through The Commons—this is my first post (hello Commons!). I thought I would use this inaugural entry to share Winterblitz 2011 with you and, in exchange, learn about winter programs on your campus.

This will be my fourth Winterblitz at UVM, which is a January version of Week of Welcome. We really wanted to turn up the heat this year, so planning began in October. With the added time, I was able to scope out students’ perspectives and pick up some wintery campus trends. Here are three that stuck out to me:

  1. Winterblitz Logo (courtesy of UVM)UVM students were going to ugly sweater parties (yes, multiples of them).
  2. UVM students were breaking out their winter hats (pompoms a must) on the early side. Hats were a cool accessory not just a necessity in cold Vermont winters.
  3. UVM students were most excited about activities that reminded them of being a kid in winter.

Admittedly, these observations are by no means a formal assessment. However, I often use what I notice to inspire visual identity for our marketing. So my student graphic design team came up with an itchy sweater logo and a fitting tagline: “It’s cold out there … bundle up with Winterblitz!”

We also found a free font named “SNOW.”

And our most favorite giveaway—a perfect knit hat with a pompom that we sourced for about $5/each from Steve at Wisconsin Knitwear. We purchase “Made” in USA products as much as possible.

Winterblitz Hat (courtesy of UVM)What makes the hats a great promo is that they fit in with students’ behavior and match their style with a custom UVM touch. Planning events that embraced winter in Vermont with an added cool giveaway and attendance at events hit an all-time high. Our strategy was to both give away a few hats at each event and through social media. UVM Program Board was able to leverage the giveaway to generate 150 Facebook fans in less than 24 hours. We have since polled 500 students on their Winterblitz experience and found that 36 percent of respondents heard about event through posters around campus and 44 percent through word-of-mouth, which marketing helps to generate.

Effective marketing necessitates a partnership with campus programmers. With the added planning time, our branding and events meshed sensibly with value-added materials and promotions.

But, I’m curious …

  • What are students talking about on your campus?
  • What programs are most popular on your campus?
  • What are trends on your campus that you can build into your next greatest giveaway?
Kate Strotmeyer

Kate Strotmeyer is the Assistant Director, Marketing, Student Life & The Davis Center at University of Vermont.


These are great ideas!! We've been experiencing Vermont in NJ this winter and could use some winter pick-me-ups!! NJCU is a very urban campus. The talk of the campus is about the mounds of snow everywhere in our towns and cities. Street parking is even more precious than usual. Everyone is tired of shoveling snow. One student can't get over the need to shovel snow just to get out of his door. Our students' favorite program is discount movie vouchers. Don't remember how much Student Gov't spends per ticket, but students easily save the price of one ticket when they use the voucher. The vouchers sell out as soon as we announce that we have them available.
Sarah-Ann Harnick
Comment posted 02/01/2011 10:44 AM
Sarah, We are digging out from the first big storm here - 16 inches! Campus is beautiful and students, for the most part, have embraced all the snow-related fun. Snowball fights, snow forts, snow people. Burlington's Winter Festival is this weekend so it definitely sets the stage for a wintery celebration. Of course, this might get old by March. Discount movie vouchers are a great idea. We have a contract with Swank and show free movies on Saturday nights, but last year we partnered with a local theater for the Harry Potter premiere and it was a huge hit. It's fun to collaborate with community resources! Thanks for sharing!
Kate Strotmeyer
Comment posted 02/04/2011 10:20 AM
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