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Last year, in an effort to become a lifelong travel partner to future customers, Delta signed exclusive agreements with universities across the country, engaging college students and campus communities at unique campus and alumni events.

By moving past traditional advertising and logo placements and working closely with universities to create valuable and impactful programs, Delta has connected with students, alumni, fans and staff around the country in relevant and resonant ways over the past year, giving these audiences new opportunities to really get to know the airline. Here are some of the highlights by the numbers:

38,000 new SkyMiles members

Delta recruited new SkyMiles members through select football and basketball season tailgate parties throughout the fall and spring, many of which featured the Delta Celebration Grill along with other fun features and giveaways. The airline also partnered with local alumni association chapters to participate in watch parties with food and beverage specials and premium branded items for SkyMiles members.

Other promotions included opportunities to win trips back to campus and Delta’s Bowl Game Fly Away Sweepstakes, through which Michigan State University alone generated more than 16,000 new SkyMiles sign-ups over the course of their journey to the national championship game.

Delta also participated in other on-campus student events, including helping 10,000 MSU freshmen on move-in day in August, where employees offered luggage carts, refreshment, and complimentary care packages to help students settle into their new digs.

50 bikes

In April, more than 200 student volunteers from Indiana University teamed up with Delta to build 50 new bikes to benefit a Bloomington, Ind., nonprofit (video above). The event took place ahead of the annual Little 500 campus bicycle race, often billed as the “greatest college weekend in America.” The finished bikes were donated to the after-school program Girls Inc. of Monroe County; the girls received the bikes in a surprise ceremony after the women's Little 500 race.

500,000 Snapchat views

In May, with college graduation season underway, Delta teamed up with popular app service Snapchat to celebrate commencement at many of the airline's college and university partner schools. Snapchat customized a Delta-themed photo filter for individual partner schools for use by students at their graduation ceremonies.  The filters collected more than a half-million views on more than 10,000 uses, outperforming Snapchat benchmarks by a factor of 10.

“Delta’s approach to university sponsorship has moved far beyond a couple of well-placed signs in a stadium,” said Jake Abel, General Manager – University Marketing. “We’re reaching beyond athletics to connect with students and alumni on social media, at philanthropic events, and at other milestones in their college journey. We’re proud of the relationships we’ve built so far and are looking forward to deepening our partnerships in the years to come.”  

Delta’s university partners include Duke University, The University of Florida, University of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology, Indiana University, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Notre Dame, The Ohio State University, Penn State University and University of Wisconsin. The airline also has existing partnerships with Boston College, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina and Syracuse University.