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Pepsi uncaps SMS to add fizz to NFL sweepstakes

PepsiCo is taking to mobile to promote its National Football League sponsorship by encouraging users to text football-related keywords to a designated number and receive links to microsites offering sweepstakes entries to win Pepsi merchandise.

Pepsi is tapping in-store signage to prompt consumers to text phrases such as ?Tailgate,? ?Blitz? and ?Score? to 811811 to receive the clickable microsite links, as fans gear up for the start of football season. The brand is joining forces with rewards platform Snipp to roll out the fall promotion, proving that users are willing to give up their personal information in exchange for the chance to win relevant prizes.

?The program has been launched nationally across many retailers, with micro-sites created specifically for Kroger and QwikTrip,? said Ritesh Bhavnani, co-founder and president of Snipp, Bethesda, MD. ?We always work with brands to ensure that the offer is communicated effectively and as a result the performance can be measured; the data we offer can provide insights across every individual retailer that participates in the promotion.?

Leveraging cross-partnerships
Cross-partnerships between major brands and organizations, such as Pepsi and the NFL, have been proven to resonate positively with many consumers, particularly if they contain a mobile element. If shoppers out and about spot a blue Pepsi-branded poster teasing them with the opportunity to win a trailer full of exclusive prizes, they may pull out their smartphones and enter for chance to win while on-the-go.

The in-store call-to-action informs consumers they may also win $25 gift cards from the promotion, which is a strong enough incentive to prompt many individuals to sign up for the sweepstakes. They may text one of the three key phrases to the number 811811.

The number will then text back with a link to the microsites for the campaign, which can be accessed via mobile. Consumers may also visit the sites on desktop at,, to complete the registration form.

After filling out registration, users will be greeted with a confirmation page, wishing them luck in their bid to snag prizes from Pepsi.

The promotion began on Sept. 10 and runs through Oct. 31.

While some brands have started winding down their SMS-focused marketing efforts, experts argue that they still offer a valuable gateway to potential customers.

According to an executive, all mature mobile marketing programs must also include a text message feature to engage your audience through a wide variety of content on a personal level (see story).

?As mobile is so top-of-mind and always within reach, it?s the perfect channel for programs that demand immediacy and seek impulse purchases,? Mr. Bhavnani said. ?Mobile devices are key marketing platforms in the retail aisle: according to a study by Deloitte, consumers who use digital devices in-store convert at a 20 percent higher rate, and 39 percent of consumers who receive relevant promotions end up spending more. 

?In addition, text messaging has been proven to be a highly effective response mechanism, based on our own data as well as industry examples,? he said. ?In the case of Pepsi, to enter into the sweepstakes all consumers need to do is text in a keyword and fill out a mobile-optimized entry form.?

Rewarding fans, gaining customers
Pepsi is not the only marketer that Snipp has teamed up with for a mobile rewards promotion. While offering rewards and sweepstakes is an optimal way of connecting with existing fans, the strategy can also yield new customers as well.

Snipp previously teamed up with Unilever?s Axe brand, which leveraged an in-store partnership with Walmart in June that was designed to attract the brand's young male audience with relevant music downloads on mobile as a reward for purchasing products (see story).

?The ultimate goal of the program is to drive in-store sales; we use engagement as a proxy to then estimate the overall sales uplift for the program,? Mr. Bhavnani said.

?Text-to-win sweepstakes tend to do pretty well in terms of participation because there is little cost or effort required to participate and the prize is often very attractive - particularly when the program is well targeted to the specific demographic, as it is in Pepsi?s case.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely, editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York