After sending students home due to the pandemic in the spring, colleges across the country were faced with the tough decision of whether or not to bring students back to campus in the fall. By July, with COVID-19 continuing to spread and concerns growing that campuses would become hubs for the virus, only 23.5% of universities were planning to fully reopen or offer primarily in-person classes (SOURCE). This meant a vast majority of colleges would be hosting virtual courses, and many would not be allowing students to return to campus. Additionally, studies showed that roughly one-third of college students didn’t even feel comfortable returning to campuses for fear of catching the virus.
The devastating situation of campus closures in 2020 left many 21+ students stuck at home in houses largely unprepared to host college life. For these young Americans, this meant missing out on the college experience that they had dreamed about and creating those important life-long memories they would one day look back on.
With these uncertainties hanging over the heads of 21+ year old college students, many of whom would be going into their senior year, Natty knew this was the time for the brand known to champion the college lifestyle to step in and help preserve it. Natty would help make the best of a bad situation with a campaign that grants fans the freedom that comes with campus living, even without campuses being open.
To address both students’ struggles with transitioning to remote learning and despair at missing out on the college experience, Natty decided to bring the campus to them. Natural Light introduced the Dorm From Home program: a “Nattified” mobile dorm unit that would be parked right in the backyard or driveway of one lucky 21+ student this fall.
Realizing that 21+ students needed a place to relax and enjoy some of the freedoms of on-campus living, Natty created the ultimate at-home getaway. Equipped with a flat screen TV, mini fridge, bumpin’ speakers, and a semester’s worth of Natty Light beer money, the Dorm From Home promised to provide one Natty fan the ultimate semester, even though they couldn’t be on campus.
Natty introduced the Dorm From Home contest in late July, encouraging 21+ students to apply for the chance to win their very own souped up mobile dorm unit. In order to ensure that they would give the dorm to a worthy individual, Natural Light asked applicants to post a photo on social media with an explanation of why they deserved to have their own space this semester to ‘dorm from home.’
Additionally, in order to encourage participation, and, therefore, ensure that the maximum number of fans had a shot at this awesome opportunity, Natural Light targeted a wide variety of media outlets. To engage directly with the current narrative of students being kept off campuses, Natural Light reached out to national, business, and education titles that had covered how colleges were responding to the spread of coronavirus. Moreover, tapping into the home design element of the Dorm From Home program, they targeted design and architecture media, as well as lifestyle writers covering home decorating. Lastly, Natty targeted key lifestyle and food outlets that are relevant to their core consumer.
On top of these tactics, Natty offered media interviews with a brand spokesperson in order to reinforce the core tenets of the program and illustrate Natural Light’s desire to help students get through this difficult time, while also enjoying college the way you’re supposed to.
For Natural Light, the Dorm From Home served as a reminder that the college lifestyle is worth celebrating, whether you’re physically on campus, attending a lecture virtually or going to office hours via video chat. Through the Dorm From Home, Natty was able to give back to its community, while also showing them that they care about the lives of their fans and helping them to solve the issues they’re currently facing.
The twofold goal of the Dorm From Home program was achieved by giving a once-in-a-lifetime experience to one lucky fan, but also spreading a broader message to all Natty fans, that just because campus is closed, doesn’t mean that you can’t still celebrate the college lifestyle from home.
The truest measure of success of the Dorm From Home program is evidenced by the excitement that the winner of the contest showed upon receiving the mobile dorm. After spending the past few months working out of his parents’ garage, the winner said, “this mobile dorm has been the best thing to happen to me in this crazy year of 2020, and even my whole life.”
More quantitatively, the extent to which Dorm From Home achieved the goals which Natural Light set out to accomplish is shown by the earned media and social coverage that the program received. Garnering a total of 196 hits and over 604M monthly impressions, the Dorm From Home story was being talked about by a wide variety of outlets, bringing attention to both the continued work of the brand and their investment in their core demo of LDA college students. Media highlighted how Natural Light was offering students the opportunity to continue the college lifestyle from home. Writers emphasized how unfortunate it was that students were missing out on the college experience and portrayed Natural Light as a compassionate, relevant brand that seeks to be actively involved in creating fun and bettering the lives of its consumers.
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