Brands on Campus: Why They're Here

Whether you start your day with a Starbucks Espresso Macchiato or want to rent from EuropCar for a Spring Break roadtrip, the images of branded ...

Whether you start your day with a Starbucks Espresso Macchiato or want to rent from EuropCar for a Spring Break roadtrip, the images of branded services pervade life on campus. With NYU Abu Dhabi's shift to Saadiyat Island, specific areas on campus have been allocated as retail spaces.
The outer facade of the campus is an example of such change. It currently awaits the opening of a sushi restaurant, men and women’s hair salons, a pharmacy and a branch of NYUAD’s travel agent Nirvana Travel.
Nicholas Freeman, marketing manager for the NYUAD Project at ADNH, clarified the exact nature of brand presence at dining facilities on campus. According to Freeman, groups like Starbucks, Coca Cola and Nespresso grant ADNH and the university Point of Service support, meaning that because their products are requested and sold at the university, the groups provides additional advertising material through posters and labels. The Coca Cola machine, for example, does not mean that Coca Cola has an independent presence at the university. Rather, its products are being sold through ADNH and the machine is there as a form of Coca Cola's marketing support.
“NYUAD specifically requested for Starbucks [products] to be present, and Nespresso [products were] brought to bring some variety and competition for Starbucks. Then again, these are not brands operating individually; they are all operated under ADNH,” commented Freeman.
“We are always open to suggestions from students regarding what they would like to see on campus. Currently, we are working to improve our breakfast services and bring kiosk-style stalls and Dutch-style bakfiets outside the Campus Center,” added Freeman.
For some students, the images of brands on Saadiyat is an inevitable result of mixing of private and public spaces on campus.
“The importance of brands is associated with having an open campus and having people come in from the Abu Dhabi community. You want this space not only to be a university but a space where people can mingle and have conversations,” said freshman Laura Patik.
While Starbucks and Nespresso are now features of daily university life, the recent addition of EuropCar’s green stall next to the East Forum came as a surprise to many.
“I was really surprised and am really interested to find out how the administration chose this specific brand,” said senior Mandy Tan. “It takes a substantial space in the Campus Center, which is our main building, and when visitors come it is one of the things they will notice. It says a lot that we have chosen to give that space to another brand.”
Fellow senior Alexander Peel mentioned that EuropCar’s presence would be better understood if it had been accompanied with an explanation as to how and when the student body can use the service. For example, in Abu Dhabi, the minimum age to use the service is 21 years.
“It would be really interesting if the administration gave a workshop on the steps involved in renting a car and obtaining a UAE license,” said Peel. “Then it would make more sense. Otherwise, its facility is useful only for the faculty and staff. I have gone out on several road trips in the area with local friends who have cars and it would be great to do the same regularly.”
Considering Saadiyat Island’s distance from the city, some students expressed a desire for more facilities or brands on campus.
“I would like for a tailor shop and an electronic store to open on campus because it is time-consuming to go the city for small emergencies that arise and these are necessary things,” said freshman Ritu Muralidharan.
That said, other students believe that the university should be careful in assessing which brands merit representation on campus.
“The university should focus on getting the stuff we need rather than the luxury versions of the stuff we want. The utmost priority should be in opening a pharmacy – we don’t have any in close proximity and you have to go to the city to obtain a prescription, which is very time-consuming,” commented Peel.
In the near future, Tan envisions a holistic ecosystem in which brands collaborate more deeply with the university.
“What I see for Saadiyat in the future is two different models: a [development] of commercial space that is determined and sustains itself by the demand of the market. Another is that the companies engage with the students and collaborate with them through internships,” said Tan.
When asked if Student Government plays any role in voicing opinions about the brands on campus, Officer of Communications Olivia Bergen said they are not involved in this issue as of now.
“If students communicate to us that they feel strongly positively or negatively about a brand or outlet on campus, we would definitely make that heard to Operations and other decision makers, but it's not currently something we're advocating for,” Bergen wrote to The Gazelle.
Karma Gurung is deputy news editor. Email her at
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