My Journey as a Brand Ambassador
Why did I get involved with this industry? What events in my life could have possibly led me to this moment when I am standing on a stage, before a sea of a thousand people, throwing out T-shirts, shouting on a microphone and having the time of my life? It’s a question I ask myself every day… well, at least every day I do promotions.
When I graduated from college I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do with my life. I had a degree in business management and a degree in public relations. So what? What do you do with a degree – walk into an employment office, wave it in some secretary’s face and say “Hire Me!”? Needless to say, I had no clue what to do after college.
So, I did what any broke, single, college kid does when he graduates with no job prospects – I moved back in with mom and dad and started working in warehouses. What else was I to do? I had no clue what was out there.
My very first job out of college, however, was actually working in Fort Dix New Jersey with a team of people who worked as ‘Iraqi recreationists.’ Basically, it was our job to be the towns’ people in a ‘simulated’ scenario that soldiers may face when traveling to Iraq. We would talk to the soldiers, go about our business, then, unbeknownst to us or the soldiers, a simulated IED would go off. It was loud!
Commanding officers were nearby to see what the soldiers would do and how they would react to both us and any potential threats in this terrifying scenario. Though the work had serious ramifications, it was really amazing working with the US military knowing that my small part may help somebody – or save someone’s life.
But alas, all things must come to an end. After my time with Fort Dix was through, I began working in any job I could find. I worked in warehouses, factories, storage facilities and assembly lines. I worked as a ditch digger, dish washer, floor sweeper, and manual laborer. Some jobs were good. Some were not. Sometimes I worked with good people. Sometimes I didn’t. Throughout it all, I couldn’t help but wonder: Where am I going?
Then one day, out of work and lost yet again, I was talking to a good friend of mine about my job absence in life. I told him that I had done a few small working gigs, helping people out at an airshow or a store grand opening, and that I had really enjoyed them. Not the most sociable guy in the world, I found myself enjoying being in a large crowd, making people happy, and being a part of the festivities – even if I was the guy just setting it up.
It was around that time that his wife came over and suggested Craigslist. “What’s Craigslist?” I asked.
It wasn’t long after that when I began my journey into the world of event marketing and promotions.
My first official job as a brand ambassador was for Swedish Fish. It was at the Readington Balloon Festival in Whitehouse, New Jersey. We had small packets of the little, gummy fish that we would throw out into the crowd. And, as any seasoned brand ambassador will tell you, when you hand out free food the crowd goes nuts!
From then on, I began picking up any brand ambassador role I could find. From Coca-Cola to Ocean Spray, from Apple to Microsoft, I worked them all.
The years passed, and jobs grew more consistent. My commitment and dedication got me more gigs. Persistence and dumb luck slowly moved me into the role of event manager – and later tour manager. Through it all, I never forgot about my early days in warehouses and factories.
It turned out that my time spent on warehouse floors helped me gain valuable experience and the appreciation of the manual labor that it takes to set-up, run, and break down events in an orderly fashion. I like manual labor. I like doing recaps. I like working with people I’ve never met before. I was never too keen on offices or the repetitions of corporate life (I cleaned out enough office supply closets to know this as a fact), but a little bit of in-the-field stress worked wonders for my soul.
Which brings me to today – a seasoned brand ambassador, event managing, and experiential marketing PRO!
Whether it’s a 60’ by 80’ footprint consisting of tractor trailers, game consoles, and batting cages, or whether it’s a small table set up in the corner of a local grocer handing out free samples of chips, every promotion, great or small, deserves the dedication and love that only a brand ambassador can give.
I’ve worked with the best and the worst. I’ve worked the large and the small. I’ve worked the insane events and the really insane events.
Being in events and experiential marketing has been the greatest journey of my life – professionally, personally, and spiritually.
I look forward to sharing all of my experiences of an 8-year adventure that has yet to reach its apex!