DESIGNERS DO DORMS

Byline: L.L.

NEW YORK — Fashion companies are out to give the collegiate set a few decorating tips.
In fact, they’re offering designer wall coverings, otherwise known as posters, to dress up the dorm.
DKNY, Joop Jeans, Levi Strauss & Co., Union Bay Sportswear, Nike, Reebok and Escada are among the advertisers in the fourth edition of Beyond the Wall, a semiannual catalog that sells posters of ad campaigns directly to college students on campus. The catalog has a circulation of 2.4 million. The posters sell for three for $12.
However, it’s not a simple poster fulfillment operation. “We’re not in the poster business; we’re in the advertising business,” said Russ Schaehrer, marketing director for Beyond the Wall. In fact, the ads don’t come cheap; a full page in the catalog costs $44,000.
“They [participating companies] pay for the ads, but the poster operation is a turnkey operation for the advertiser. We print all the posters, and we do all their fulfillment,” said Schaehrer.
In the company’s one-and-a-half years in business, its best-selling poster was from DKNY. “A really good, hot poster in a fall publication will do 5,000 or 6,000 [orders],” he said.
According to Schaehrer, the catalogs generate millions of cost-effective ad impressions.
“It’s 50 percent cheaper than buying the same distribution in a magazine,” he said. College students browse through the catalog to buy posters, he noted, “but they’re looking at this six or seven times to decide what to buy.”
The catalog offers 31-by-40-inch versions of participating companies’ print ads, and some advertisers, such as Coca Cola, have designed ads especially for the catalog. The catalogs are distributed free through college newspapers, representatives on campus and gift packs distributed to dorm rooms.
The college market, which accounts for more than 7.5 million four-year college undergraduates, represents over $30 billion in buying power, according to statistics from American Passage Media Corp.
Beyond the Wall expects to do $2.5 million in volume in 1995, said Schaehrer. The catalog carried advertisements from between 20 and 24 advertisers in the first three editions and expects to carry over 35 advertisers in the fall edition.
The company was founded by two former Procter & Gamble marketing executives, Dennis Roche and Brian Gordon, both in their 20s. The idea for the catalog came from an experience Gordon had while he was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. There was a banner in the gym’s rafters for ESPN, and he wanted it. He confessed that he wanted it so badly, he stole it, but then wondered why he couldn’t buy one.
Even though many college students probably can’t afford some of the products advertised, Beyond the Wall thinks it’s an important market to court since college students are still forming product preferences.
“Most companies are maniacal about reaching the college student. Take BMW: College students will be their market for the next 40 years. If you can get them between the ages of 18 and 24, that’s the time to get any consumer for any product. They’re the premier market.”

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