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SMS Plays a Key Role in This Massive Marketing Campaign

Have you ever had Chicken and Waffles crisps? What about Smoked Gouda and Chive? Perhaps Truffle Fries?

No? I’m pretty sure you can’t get them in the UK, but if you visited the US in October or early November you could have snagged a bag to bring home. Frito-Lay, the parent company of Lay’s brand crisps (called Walkers in the UK), created the flavours based on the input from consumers during several different contests in recent years. Most of the winning flavours were available for a short time after the contests ended.

But this Autumn, they ran a promotion that re-released the three most favourite flavour combinations based on social media responses (and I imagine previous sales counted too). In order to create excitement around the flavours, the company ran a massive marketing campaign that utilised social media, video, celebrity, and SMS.

In fact, SMS was a central part of the contest.

How It Worked

The company created a social media following using the hashtag #LaysFlavorAllStars. They built up suspense for a big reveal of which three flavours would be returning for a limited time. Next, they enlisted celebrity Josh Peck (Grandfathered, Drake and Josh) to announce the winners from a live event at the “Lay’s Flavour Vault” which is an authentic old vault in New York City (according to Yahoo! Finance).

Once everyone knew what flavours were in their local store, the next part of the campaign started.

Each bag of crisps (they call them chips in the US), had a code on it. Consumers would find the code after purchase and text it to a shortcode. The shortcode not-coincidentally spelt “CHIPS” on the numeric keypad (note it’s a US shortcode only).

If their code won, they received a message saying they entered a prize-winning code. They then received messages on how to validate and redeem the prize. When they entered the code, they were also asked to agree to receive up to four messages per code entered. This gives the company permission to send them SMS messages (at least a few).

The contest ran from October 3rd to November 14th. Randomly, once an hour, a code would be chosen to win $100 (~£80). That means the company planned on giving away $100 every hour for those 43 days, assuming enough codes were entered for a total of just over $103k.

Multi-Pronged Approach

SMS messaging was the final step in a longer process. They built-up excitement and anticipation for what the company was offering, then later released the product. I’m sure there was other advertising besides the social media, but from the reports and articles, it seems it was their main method of raising awareness for the promotion.

But the company opted for SMS redemption of codes rather than using social media or requiring customers to visit a website. It’s simpler, and quicker, for everyone to see who won. It’s also more in line with how people live and shop – with their mobile in hand. Typing a code into an SMS message is much more practical than asking customers to navigate to a mobile website.

And SMS can work on the slimmest of mobile signals. That means customers could enter their codes wherever they were, without worrying about their signal strength, access to the Internet or charges for data usage. And there’s also less typing than going to a website.

Can You Do A Similar Thing?

Obviously, this campaign was massive, using different channels and promotions to maximise excitement. But SMS could be integrated into smaller, or larger campaigns that use mobile to connect with customers.

Next time you’re planning a marketing event, promotion, or content, consider how you can include SMS. Every customer that has a mobile can use SMS. They don’t need a smartphone like they would to use a social media app, website or email. SMS is quick and people know how to use it so your response rates could be much higher than other methods. It could be the perfect addition to your next campaign.

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