June 2017

When Activations Tell a Story

"Win a fabulous San Francisco getaway to visit Rancho Obi-Wan, home to the world's largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia."

If you had to guess, what brand do you think gave this trip away? A logical answer might be Lego, or maybe even Xbox. But the correct response is actually Little Debbie (and that's no Jedi mind trick).

So, what does Star Wars have to do with snack cakes? Is there a clear connection, or is this just a completely random – yet totally awesome – prize?

We all know that a chance to win a big prize can motivate consumers to engage, but is it the best approach to achieve long-term brand goals?

Like any brand marketing effort, we want consumers to take something meaningful from a promotion – something that will begin to create a place for that brand in their mind. If we only focus on motivating them in the moment (ala that flashy prize) we may eliminate the opportunity to create a memorable brand story, and risk sending a consumer away with no lasting brand impression.

There's a whole lot more to a promotion than awesome prizes. In fact, many don't even offer a prize. Sure, you may be able to get away with an incentive that feels highly motivating, but a deeper engagement can refine the targeting and help you tell a more compelling story. Sprinting to a conversion by rushing consumers through a quick engagement may boost entry numbers, but what good does that do if you're not reaching your true target? Maintaining a longer engagement with a relevant and memorable brand message, perhaps through video or games, creates a bigger impact. Yeah, you might lose a few entries along the way, but the valuable ones will stick around and make it all worthwhile. Kind of like dating.

When a consumer experience contributes to the brand story, it supports the connection between the brand and the engagement, and makes a promotional message valuable for both the brand and the consumer.

Every message that drives consumers to engage with a promotion are brand impressions. For example, if a million people see a message, and only 2% enter, the other 98% will still walk away with a brand impression. It's important to make sure that's the message you really want them to remember.

When the entire experience pays off what a consumer wants to engage with, you create a mutual value exchange between brand and consumer. The brand gets a chance to tell their story, while the consumer doesn't realize they're being marketed to. The whole thing just feels natural.

So what's the story with Little Debbie? They're a sponsor of Rancho Obi Wan, and found a connection between their Star Crunch product and that galaxy far, far away (Star Wars… Star Crunch. Both have 'star' in them). The connection is a bit of a stretch, will it be enough to make this promotion an investment with lasting value? Only time will tell. The Force works in mysterious ways.

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By Kelly West
Account Manager

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