Collegiate Advantage to Be Unit of Student Advantage After Buyout
BOSTON--Two agencies that specialize in marketing to college-age consumers joined forces last week when Student Advantage bought promotional firm Collegiate Advantage for an undisclosed amount of cash.
The acquisition gives Student Advantage access to such Collegiate Advantage clients as Coca-Cola, Gillette, Rolling Stone and Sam Goody. "[Student Advantage] had all the services we were missing, and I figured we should get into it in a big way," said Ray Sozzi, who founded Student Advantage six years ago.
Student Advantage has created a membership program in which 1.5 million students pay an annual fee of $20 for discounts on products and services. Advertisers that participate in the Student Advantage program include AT&T, Amtrak, Greyhound, IBM, MTV and The Princeton Review.
Collegiate Advantage, which handles media buying and event management and conducts annual festivals on some 400 campuses around the country, will operate under its own name as a division of Student Advantage.
Collegiate Advantage chairman Paul Tedeschi, who founded the agency 10 years ago while an undergraduate student at Boston University, will be president of the division.
The sale followed the contentious breakup with a former partner who Tedeschi agreed to cash out last summer. Industry analysts last week estimated the value of Collegiate Advantage at between $2-3.5 million.
The deal effectively leaves Sprint, a client of Collegiate Advantage since 1993, out in the cold. The client is being dropped because Student Advantage handles youth marketing assignments for AT&T.
Once its contract with Collegiate Advantage expires in May, Sprint is likely to assign its youth marketing chores to Sales & Merchandising Group in Kansas City, Mo., according to sources. S&MG chairman Tony Lasorda could not be reached for comment by press time.
No staff cuts are planned, according to Sozzi. The combined company has 125 full-time and about 500 part-time employees, said Sozzi, who added, "We are hiring."
This summer, Student Advantage and its Collegiate Advantage division will move into Lehman/Millet's former headquarters on Summer Street in Boston, Tedeschi said.
Sozzi, who is currently working on a deal with overseas youth hostels to be distributors for the Student Advantage program, hopes to go global in the near future.
"We will still focus on the U.S. market. It is likely we'll start to expand internationally this year," Sozzi said.