Though they may not be the first thing partygoers notice on a Saturday night, banners advertising Rockstar Energy Drink and www.vcellvibes.com can now be seen hanging from several residences along Del Playa Drive.
As of yesterday, five banners for the VCell Vibes website and one for Rockstar Energy Drink decorated homes on DP. VCell Vibes, co-founded last May by UCSB student Sergey Lossev, is a free online social network like Facebook or MySpace that users can access from their cell phones. Rockstar Energy Drink is also advertising throughout Isla Vista, with one banner up at a D.P. house where the company recently sponsored a party and a campaign featuring drink dispensers, banners and free drinks for UCSB’s greek community.
Lossev, a second-year College of Creative Studies student with a chemistry emphasis, said the VCell Vibes banners are designed to catch students’ attention and help the company become a well-recognized brand in the UCSB community. The company is also currently handing out coupons to local eateries like Silvergreens and I.V. Deli Mart to people who sign up for the service.
Lily Nguyen, a VCell Vibes public relations employee and fourth-year communication major, said she thinks the banners are fulfilling their intended purpose.
“I think that [all of the advertising] has definitely generated good amount of buzz,” Nguyen said.
Brandon Wheatley, a resident of 6626 Del Playa Dr. and fourth-year global studies major, said he is currently debating whether to take the VCell Vibes banner off his balcony. Wheatley said the company promised to give him a “decent handle” of hard alcohol every week if he displayed the banner on his balcony, and he claims that he has yet to receive any alcohol.
Lossev said the company only gives out keg cups and lighters with the VCell Vibes logo to residents who display the banner. He said some residents have asked for more compensation, but the company does not provide any other form of payment, even when a resident threatens to remove the sign. Some residents have also removed the VCell Vibes signs because their landlords asked them to, Lossev said.
Lossev said the company originally handed out 12 banners to local homes – five of which are still standing – and passed out fliers and ads throughout I.V. and in the UCSB Residence Halls’ mailboxes. VCell Vibes also recently sponsored a party in I.V. and might do so again soon, he said. The company is focusing its advertising in I.V., Lossev said, because he thinks his product will appeal to people who already use similar programs like MySpace and Facebook.
“I think it is really like Facebook designed for your cell phone,” Lossev said.
Fourth-year communications major Karen Sikola is a resident of 6542 Del Playa Dr. – the only house on the street with a Rockstar banner. She said the company gave the residents of the house ten cases of Rockstar Energy Drink, hats and T-shirts to throw a Rockstar-themed party. She said representatives for the company hinted they might provide a DJ and bouncers if the house throws another Rockstar party.
Rockstar is also advertising heavily within the greek community. Employees from the company manned a booth at Saturday’s “Phi Ball” event, thrown by Alpha Phi Sorority, and gave out free drinks to attendees. Rockstar vending machines also now sit in fraternity houses such as Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) and Beta Theta Pi.
ATO President Matt Rousso, a third-year law & society major, said Rockstar gives the fraternity approximately 50 cents for every $2 energy drink bought from the machine. The company also provided ATO with a bar and posters to hang around their house on Embarcadero del Norte.
“They just give out free shit in order to have the advertising out there,” Rousso said.