Julie, launched a year ago by Starface and Plus founders Brian Bordainick and Julie Schott, alongside Amanda E.J. Morrison, is setting out to educate college students about the brand and its sole product: emergency contraceptive.
Rather than doing the same thing across a number of college campuses, the brand is experimenting with a number of ways to both market the brand and destigmatize EC. These include out-of-home ads, IRL campus events and car swarms — Lyft cars will be wrapped in Julie branding. The campaign officially kicked off in August with social content providing education about sexual health preparedness, consent and alcohol — new posts will go live through late October. On-campus events began on September 12 and will be hosted through November 18. And out-of-home ad buys and other IRL elements of the campaign, including the car swarms, will run throughout October.
The campaign is centered around and inspired by the brand’s core proposition of being “there when you need it,” said Morrison.
“We understand the chaos and the newness that can happen [at the start of the school year], with figuring out a roommate and your classes and all the emergencies and chaos that can happen. Emergency contraception shouldn’t be one of them,” she said.
Julie launched last September with a $5 million Seed round led by Connect Ventures, BBG and Align Ventures. It has raised $10.6 million to date. Thanks to partnerships with Walmart, CVS and Target, it’s entered over 10,000 brick-and-mortar stores across the country.
College campuses have become rife with opportunities for brands, Morrison said, noting that most campuses now have digital billboards. There are also opportunities for brands to partner with on-campus student groups. Julie will be harnessing both of these opportunities as part of this campaign. In partnership with Advocates for Youth, which has over 75,000 Youth Activist Network members across 1,200 campuses, and Know Your IX, which focuses on empowering students to stop sexual assault, the brand will donate 250 units of Julie to 200 campuses.
“Students will apply to be part of this program in late August and will distribute Julie throughout September and October,” Morrison said. She noted that, if Julie deems the program impactful, it will repeat it for the winter semester.
The brand plans to closely monitor each element of the broad campaign to inform a college ambassador program it plans to launch in 2024, Morrison said. “This campaign is really our first use case to ask, ‘What makes sense for Julie, in terms of showing up on campus? How can we actually make an impact?’ [We are looking to find out] where we fit in, in the college experience.”
The brand’s OOH advertising will show up on the campuses of schools including UCLA, the University of Michigan and the University of Houston. And car swarms will be timed to game days at University of Texas, Austin; University of Florida and the University of Southern California. The tagline “Don’t turn this semester into a trimester” appears on the campaign’s key visuals. According to Morrison, car swarms present an opportunity “for college students and everyone in town who goes to college games” to learn about the brand.
In addition, Julie will host events at the University of Alabama Birmingham, the University of Illinois, Howard University, Jackson State and Columbia Law School. Morrison said there were a few criteria considered in choosing the partner campuses. “We wanted to make sure they were campuses with large, diverse student bodies that had already shown an openness to EC on campus,” she said. The company also looked for campuses where its products are available nearby at a partner Target, Walmart or CVS.
Julie is partnering with media brand Friday Beers, activating alongside it at four college campuses across the country which will bring the campaign into popular college bars. A Julie mascot will be at the bars and campuses passing out Julie merch and engaging with students. The activations have been planned to occur in tandem with football games.
“We thought about each school’s big moments, which are often accompanied by parties or drinking events, and then often accompanied by sex — and sometimes unprotected sex,” Morrison said. “The campaign is really about meeting people where they are.”