Brand Ambassador: Short-Term Job as a Marketing or Promotions Rep

Have you ever seen ads for short-term jobs in marketing and promotions in your city? They may look like these examples:

Brand Ambassadors needed to offer samples and promote new energy drink at weekend trade show. June 1-3. 1:00pm to 9:00pm each day. Pay is $10/hr. Please email full name, age, phone number, and headshot photo to 1234@5678.com by May 30.

or

Come join the fun! Promotions reps needed to give out free t-shirts at major sporting event in Minneapolis this weekend. Must be friendly, college-aged, and have pleasant appearance. Please apply at our website: www.1234promotions.com ASAP using event code 1453. We need four women and two men.

or

Are you outgoing and attractive? We have a short-term need for female brand ambassadors at an over-21 event in Seattle, June 15-17. You will be wearing a tanktop (provided) and short shorts with flip flops. $250 for 6 hours each day. Must be available Fri-Sun. 232-232-2323.

A fast gig as a brand rep is a reasonable way to make quick cash, often in a casual but high-energy environment. Although they do sound like fly-by-night operations, many of these brand ambassador opportunities are legitimate options for college students and others who need to make a little extra money and don’t want a long-range commitment. Here’s what you should know about these short-term jobs in marketing and promotions:

What does it involve?
Most brand ambassador jobs take place at sporting events, trade shows, conventions, festivals, fairs, bars, and other large public gatherings. Whatever the company chooses to call your job, the real purpose is to market a product or service. The goal is usually something like gaining recognition for a new brand, generating new customers, getting email addresses for a mailing list, etc. Typically, short-term jobs in marketing and promotions do not require reps to sell anything – at least not directly. Examples include: handing out samples of a beverage or snack food, handing out keychains and other trinkets, conducting surveys, and demonstrating products. Some of these short-term jobs involve offering “free” t-shirts which people receive after they fill out a credit card application or provide other personal information voluntarily in exchange for the prize or goodie.

What is the pay like?
Pay varies dramatically based on your location, the type of event, the hours, etc. You may receive a flat amount for one day, a sum for a whole week/weekend, or an hourly rate. If you’re NOT getting paid by the hour, be sure to inquire what the expectations are in order to receive the specified amount. For example, if an event runs from 5pm to 9pm, how late do the promotions reps need to stay? Are you required to help clean up, tear down displays, etc.? These days, it’s rare to see anything below $8 an hour, and some gigs pay as much as $15-18 an hour.

What is my relationship as a brand ambassador to the company?
It is rare that you will be paid by the same company that actually makes the product or provides the service you are promoting. Chances are that the promotions campaign will be run by a separate marketing firm with whom the main company has a contract. Regardless, the company who pays you almost never adds you to their payroll as a regular employee. Instead, you’re simply treated as an independent contractor and provided a check in-person or by mail (without any tax withheld). You agree to receive this payment for the short-term brand ambassador work you do, but you acknowledge that (a) you’re not actually an employee and (b) you’re responsible for taxes as a promotions rep. If you earn over a certain dollar amount, you should receive a 1099 form at the start of next year’s tax season.

What about the special appearance requirements?
Whether we like it or not, appearances do matter, and marketing companies don’t do anything to change that. Typically, they want to hire young, attractive people as brand ambassadors because those people grab our attention at public events and are harder to say “no” to. However, depending on the exact product, the sought-after image can vary from flauntingly sexy to conservatively dapper. Gender is also important, as female reps are usually sought to market at traditionally male-centered events (like car shows and sporting events). That said, the promotions world is slowly become more gender-equitable.

What is the work environment like?
The atmosphere at any promotion will depend on the larger event, your fellow staff, and countless other unpredictable factors. You may be standing all day. You may be in the nippy cold or the intense heat. You may not get much time for lunch. You may encounter some unsavory people. Accordingly, you must be mentally and physically prepared for all sorts of repetitive activities and unusual situations.

Where do I find these promotions rep jobs?
In addition to looking at posters and regular classified ads, marketing companies sometimes use the “jobs” and “gigs” sections of free websites like www.craigslist.org to recruit people for short-term promotions and marketing jobs. College and university student unions (given the pool of people) are great places to look for flyers advertising the need for brand ambassadors. Lastly, some trade shows dedicate space on their websites for promotions companies to indicate their hiring needs.

What are some of the advantages of a promotions rep job?
– You can make decent money in a short period of time without a long-term commitment. In fact, you will often earn 150-200% of what you’d make at a standard retail job.
– You may have a lot of fun with your co-workers and the public.
– You won’t be bored!
– Once you do a brand ambassador job once, it’s even easier to get positions later, especially if the same company handles multiple clients or events in your area.

What are some of the drawbacks of a promotions rep job?
– Marketing companies don’t care about your scheduling contingencies (i.e. child care, other jobs, transportation issues, etc.) Scheduling is almost never flexible.
– You don’t have any say over what you market. Depending on the nature of the promotion, you may be giving out tobacco-themed merchandise, encouraging hapless people to apply for credit, or indirectly encouraging binge drinking.
– The promotion events are usually on weekend or at night, which can hamper your social schedule.
– There’s often a major focus on your appearance. You’ll have to deal with having been selected based on a combination of your personality and your looks. If that bothers you, you probably shouldn’t pursue a short-term job as a brand ambassador.
– The work can actually be demanding and physically exhausting if you are, for example, standing out in the hot sun all day trying to give people t-shirts while coercing them to fill out credit card applications.

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