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Sara Lee corn dog brand engages moms

Client: Sara Lee
Launch Creative Marketing
Outtake: Sara Lee gave moms the chance to win their dream home through an integrated campaign that leapfrogged from package promotions to SMS.

The Sara Lee State Fair Brand wanted to do something positive for customers during a time when a bad economy and a weak housing market permeated everyone’s thoughts. When it began planning its next campaign to promote its corndogs brand, Sara Lee centered it around an online game in which players compete for the chance to win a “Dream Home.”

In the State Fair “Dream Home” promotion, consumers enter codes online from specially-marked packages of Sara Lee corndogs. Its promotional incentive is the chance to win prizes including half a million dollars to buy a dream house.

The brand teamed up with integrated marketing agency Launch Creative Marketing to run the multichannel campaign.

“In this down economy, people are worried about losing their homes,” said Kevin Keating, president of Launch Creative Marketing. “We wanted to inspire them for the chance to win their dream house.”

Strategy: State Fair took an integrated, multichannel approach to promote the game. It combined media product packaging, sweepstakes, e-mail promotions, the website, Facebook and the brand’s first-ever mobile promotion effort.

“This is the first time we have taken such a wide scope approach to digital marketing,” said Beba.

In order to win the $500,000 grand prize, consumers had to collect all six virtual rooms in the digital “Dream Home.” Players were also able to play for the chance to win one of more than 10,000 instant prizes from rooms they collect, such as an HDTV or washer/dryer unit.

“Moms spend a fair amount of time online playing games,” said Korhan Beba, senior brand manager, State Fair Brand Corn Dogs at Sara Lee North America. “We wanted to do an online game that would resonate with her and the chance to win a dream home was a great way to engage her.”

The objective was to keep the brand top of mind and drive customers to purchase corndogs more often. The campaign targeted 25 to 49-year-old women who have more than one child at home.

“The idea of the promotion was to try to get repeat purchases from regular customers,” said Keating. “We want to get customers to think about corndogs as a meal and not just a snack.”

While State Fair’s brand awareness tests well in the category, sales remained flat for the entire category. In this environment, “Our goal was to increase the frequency, as well as reach new customers,” said Beba.

The product packaging played a critical role in the promotion, because product purchase was required for consumers to play the game. The boxes also included ads to promote the game. Two e-mails went out to the Sara Lee consumer database when the game first launched to help drive traffic.

The food manufacturer also ran freestanding inserts in newspapers, encouraging consumers to text in to find out more information about the game. The inserts included a short code number where consumers could text to win prizes such as household electronics. People that sent in texts to the promotion received one back with a link to the game’s WAP site, where consumers could learn how to play the online game. Participants in the mobile component also received follow up texts reminding them to play the game online.

Results: The campaign launched in February 2010 and runs through the end of October. Not all of the results are in yet, but the company believes the campaign is already a success. The brand reported that as of mid-August, one million game plays had taken place.

“We are still learning and looking at different options for future campaigns, but digital will play a bigger role in the future for sure,” he said. “We don’t do any TV or mass media and despite this, we have had a million game plays, which is telling.”

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