Not having any flyers on your stand to promote your message is a bit inconvenient, or so it seems after a round of the information market where student organisations introduce themselves to first-year students. “Actually, we just have a few pens and a plasticised QR code”, says Denyse Paalvast (24) from the Spoedeisende Hulp Studentenorganisatie (SEHSO, Emergency Medicine Student Organisation), standing in front of her rather bare table. “Students can scan it and find information, but it still feels a bit more impersonal than handing out flyers.”
An outright giveaway of plastic ‘goodies’ and ‘gadgets’ in tote bags seems to be the norm to attract new students. Walk around the market for an hour and you will have picked up five new pairs of sunglasses, eight pens, socks for the rest of the week, bottle openers for the whole house and enough condoms to avoid contracting an STD for the rest of your student life. Other popular gifts include fans, stress balls, water bottles and decks of cards. In the more creative category are a thermometer, a biscuit tin and a chopping board. All bearing logos. Handy for branding, but also easily forgotten or thrown away. The ABN-AMRO stand has twelve pairs of plastic slippers and a fluorescent green bathrobe. At one of the student associations, it even looks like a supermarket, with dozens of neatly arranged bottles of sriracha mayonnaise and tins of shaving cream that can be won in a game of darts.
At the Coolblue stand, flyers are handed out, along with beer mats and socks. “Flyers are really old-fashioned, but they do work”, says staff member Caitlyn Driedijk (24). “They end up in student houses and on tables, and that’s where they get read again. I think companies have other things to consider. Besides, the socks we give away can be used for years to come. In that respect, that really is sustainable.”
In addition to the various associations, there are also organisations that use goodies and gadgets to raise awareness of important issues. GGD employee Tachmille de Gouveia Brazao, 36, explains: “We raise awareness about issues such as STDs and HPV vaccinations through personal conversations. That’s the best way to get the message across.” As for the dozens of sunglasses on the table, Tachmille says they are ‘genuinely recyclable and functional’, but above all, they are a ‘friendly reminder’ of the GGD municipal health organisation.
The no-flyer policy can have an adverse effect when it comes to recruiting new members, according to Mila (20) and Liza (24) of the Neverless student hockey club. “The policy is not terrible”, admits Mila, standing in front of a table with temporary tattoos, water bottles and a stack of green plastic sunglasses. “I’m all for sustainability. But it’s a shame we can’t even hand out a sticker with our logo because of the plastic on the back. Without information on paper, people are likely to forget you sooner.”
“There’s a lot of free stuff being handed out here”, says Lisa, sceptical about the market’s sustainability credentials. “We were just joking about our shopping bag here behind our stand. It’s full of plastic sunglasses that we still had lying around and we’re just giving them away here. But yes, nobody wears them for more than a day.” Their conclusion: these kinds of items are just for fun; however, a ‘cheerful chat’ tends to make the best impression on new students.