The “Instructional” Campaign

According to the calendar, Spring has officially sprung. And while we are still experiencing some chilly days, it’s undeniable most of us are ready to shed our winter gear for shorts and sandals. As with all season changes, clothing companies are eager to help you exchange your wardrobe.

Recently, clothing company Lands’ End launched their new “How to Spring” advertising campaign, showcasing, “How fun and fashionable it is to add bright colors, graphic prints and floral patterns with a few perfect pieces from the women’s spring collection”. It could be argued that every spring campaign that will launch this season will have a similar goal; however, Lands’ End decided to do something a little different this season by adding a sweepstake to its promotional and marketing strategy.

The sweepstakes works by first connecting with Facebook or entering your email. Once you’ve connected, you are asked to fill out your name, email, and zip code. Filling out this information unlocks the game. The rules are simple, select an outfit and click “spin”. If the outfit that the player selected matches the three tumblers, the player automatically wins a gift card with a balance of $25, $50, or $1,000. That’s it! Simple right? Not to mention, everyone is eligible to enter every day for the grand prize of $1,000 shopping spree. You can view the official rules of the sweepstakes here.

While we like to think that games, contests, and sweepstakes’ only motives are for fun and entertainment, they are actually a smart marketing move – encouraging consumption of the product by creating consumer involvement. This involvement builds fan base, engages the audience, and enables consumers to do your marketing for you. Not to mention, user generated content often provides quality, innovative, and creative ads for free.

In addition to promoting brand visibility, contest and sweepstakes are strategies that provide valuable quantifiable benefits for companies as well. They are cost effective, they help build search engine optimization (SEO), and increasingly important, they provide a rich source of consumer data for the company about existing and potential customers – emails, product preferences, location, etc.

With every click essentially producing some sort of user information, online contests are growing in use on websites and especially on social media. The most popular initiatives include: photo and video contests, tagging contest, hashtag giveaways, and website raffles.

Top Rank, an online marketing blog, named some of their picks of the best contest use on social media.
Facebook: When Frito-Lay began their campaign for searching for new potato chips flavors, the company bypassed focus groups and turned to Facebook to connect directly with the customers who would be eating them.
Pinterest: AMC Theaters have an entire Pinterest board, AMC Giveaways, where all users have to do is follow the board to stay up to date on the latest AMC contests. The basics are simple, when users see a prize they want, clicking on the image takes them to a landing page that collects their information.
Twitter: In a “retweet to win” twitter contest, Doritos tweeted a message that simply asked followers to retweet for a chance to win. The tweet was retweeted over 500 times in a day with winners snagging products that ranged from Doritos to widescreen tvs.
Instagram: As many clothing company are starting to do, Vera Bradely’s instagram contest asked users to post pictures of them and their favorite Vera Bradley bag using the hashtag #VBStyleShare. At the end of the contest, winners received a wrislet, followers of the hashtag could receive fashion inspiration, and staff could see how consumers were pairing their products.

The benefits contests can provide seem like an almost no-brainer for companies to increase brand awareness while also gaining consumer data, but as they start to trend they are also subject to overuse. To combat becoming another form of clutter, companies will have to make sure their contest are increasingly interactive, engaging, creative, or lucrative.

Have you ever participated in an online contest? Did you win? Did it make you feel more favorable towards the brand? Scrolling through your social media feeds have you seen brands using contests similar to the ones above? What are some of the best/most creative ones you have seen?

- Elizabeth Harrington, Caroline Robinson, Savannah Valade

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10 thoughts on “The “Instructional” Campaign

  1. I think that contests are a great way for companies, particularly clothing brands, to engage with their buyers. I know I almost always enter boutique’s Instagram contests where you repost the photo and tag the company in it. I’ve never won, but it still doesn’t stop me from trying because it’s such a simple thing to do. Personally, it makes the brand seem as though they care about their consumers because they want to give away something. As a consumer, I am aware that by me doing this, I am promoting their brand for free. But the chance to win free goodies outweighs the issue of me doing free advertisement. From a company perspective, giving away something as small as a $50 gift card is definitely worth the amount of free advertisement online. It’s very smart from a financial and promotional stand point.

    • Kaitlyn,

      I’m glad you commented about your experience in participating in contest. Is their a specific type of contest you favor over another type? For example, Instagram vs. Facebook. Personally, I do not participate in contest unless the prize is something I really want. Do you think contest are more effective when it’s local, like the boutiques you talk about, or national, like the Frito-Lay example?

      -Caroline R.

    • I completely agree that contests are a great way for companies to gain exposure and attention. Buyers see them as a fun activity, and it seems to give whatever company is promoting it a well looked at fun personality. Whether it be a physical contest or posting on Instagram a picture promoting their product like you mentioned. I think that companies should continue to do this to keep the buyers entertained.

      Brooke Boatwright

  2. I thought this blog post was definitely informative. I scroll through my facebook newsfeed and Instagram and see many companies that are posting about products and encouraging followers to enter in contests to win a product. Posts that I see very often on Instagram are from Marley and Lilly. They encourage followers to repost their posts in order to win something free. This not only gets that particular follower interested in a product, but it also spreads the word to other people that might not be following Marley and Lilly. Posts like these show that the company is showing interest in their costumers and their products. They are getting their name out in different ways now and they are a lot more creative.

  3. Personally I have experienced exactly the kind of consumer fascination with free products and monetary prizes that are offered by businesses through sweepstakes and competitions. Although as a consumer I am concretely aware that these opportunities are promotions, I still find them appealing and am some-what fooled into putting more stock into the likelihood that I will be the winner as if the prospect is presented and directed only to me. Just as the writer of the blog mentions, promotions such as Land’s End’s spring shopping spree sweepstakes are extremely intelligent marketing moves that not only attract consumer base through involvement but also collect data like email and zip code to use for future advertisement. Unfortunately for my secondary email (not the uncw.edu email) I have fallen victim to many online contests from-businesses ranging from Seventeen Magazine which promises potential beauty and hair care prizes, more academically related brands like Chegg which offers sweepstakes for book discounts and scholarship earnings. Although I have never won, I continue to invest my time and my privacy in the form of disclosing my email to these sweepstake and competitive promotion strategies simply on the off chance that I one day will win. The attitude I often adopt when filling out the personal information they require is “why not?” What harm am I doing by giving away an email and a phone number? Sometimes I do end up paying a small price when a particular brand sends constant email advertisements and appeals for investment, however I can easily unsubscribe from those brands with no harm done.
    Several brands that I am familiar with holding similar promotional campaigns such as the one discussed about Land’s End, include Eggo, Sephora and Macy’s. Eggo held a recipe contest where the winner of the best recipe received $5,000, Sephora ran a sweepstakes where applicants simply had to fill out a page on their information to win an all-inclusive paid trip to Costa Rica and a supply of beauty products, and finally Macy’s promoted their fitness clothing through having contestants like their page to win $1000 worth of a Macy’s fitness wardrobe. All three stood out to me because of the ease of their requirements similar to that of the Land’s End sweepstake and the social media they were advertised on: Facebook. In addition, even before their promotional campaign I was personally attracted to each of the brands as well. I find Eggo, Sephora, and Macy to all be creative because they each worked to model their prize to communicate their brand appropriately, such as the Sephora make up brand choosing the glamorous prize of a Costa Rica vacation to fit its aesthetically geared image.

  4. I have seen contests like this one from brands that I am fairly fond of. That being said, I rarely participate in giveaways like this one. A popular contest I have seen with clothing stores on Instagram, is one where you repost pictures of their clothes in hopes of winning the outfit you reposted a picture of. I did this one time for a local boutique in Wilmington, and not to my surprise, I didn’t win. I also didn’t hear any news about a winner at all, so after that I was skeptical about promotions like that. I do think contests like these work, because Instagram users aren’t aware of how many other people are participating in the contest. They think that since they haven’t seen anyone else on their feed repost the picture, that very few people are posting it. That is untrue and by reposting they are providing a lot of free advertising for said company.

  5. I think that these sweepstakes and online contest are such great ideas for brands and for the customer. Now with the overload of people shopping on the internet it is a no brainer for the companies. It creates such brand awareness and there is a higher chance that people who participated in the contest or won something from the contest will continue to use that brand and tell others about it. I personally have never really won an internet contest. I do receive emails and coupons from Victoria Secret though, and they give out gift certificates from $10 to $500 to all those who are in the system, and I got a $50 one once and couldn’t have been happier. It definitely made me enjoy those emails and coupons a lot more and things such as that is such a good way for them to get free advertisement by their customers. Many companies use social media now to keep in touch with their customers and keep them updated. I always see companies like GAP and Dr. Pepper on twitter sponsoring tweets that ask you to “Enter to Win” or go to there website for more information about a contest or sweepstakes.

  6. I believe that any online contest can be beneficial for a company. It allows their consumers to feel apart of the brand and their decisions and also allows for more people to get a sense of what the brand is about. I recently participated in an online contest for the brand L-Space. It was on their Instagram page and the contest entailed their followers on Instagram to regram this particular photo they chose and use the hashtag “#idreamofbikini” and then to tag lspace on the photo as well. By doing so, three lucky ladies got the chance to win a brand new bikini! As much as I wish I did, I did not win this particular online contest. However, it was fun to participate and feel like a part of the company by supporting their brand and posting their photo on my own Instagram page. Throughout my Instagram feed, it has become a lot more popular for brands to use contests that are benefical to their consumers. Not even to be biased, but this has probably been one of the best I have seen because who doesn’t love a brand new bikini for free? Especially when you have to do something as easy as regramming a photo, this online contest seemed well worth my time!

  7. This blog post provided a lot of great information. When I am checking my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram many companies as well as some of the people I follow are always posting about products they love and encourage their followers to enter a contest to win certain products. Recently I have noticed a lot of post to win Lilly Pulitzer items, New spring outfits/ items, gift cards, new t-shirts from companies like Southernly Stated or Tied to the South. In order to enter or win the contest many encourage their followers to like or repost their post in order to win this allows for them to get their name out as well as gain more followers. Over the weekend I reposted and followed Hollyannaeree to win a new Chanel purse it was my first contest on Instagram, I had to follow her on Instagram, repost the picture as well as like the picture and go to her blog to enter to win. This allows for companies, bloggers to get their name and products noticed in a creative and fun way.

  8. I have seen so many of these types of “instructional” ads lately that I feel that they are being overused. While I think they are often unnecessary I have to admit that I have participated in a few. On Instagram they are particularly appealing because often all I have to do is follow the brand and then Instagram the picture. Unfortunately every time I have done it I haven’t won. If I had won maybe I would have felt more favorable towards the brand but because I didn’t and its not like I ever saw who did win I just felt annoyed. Lately there have been so many giveaway type ads that require minimal work but are just starting to bug me. I think it is a great way to get your brand out there because people are doing the advertising for you but there is a line between effective and annoying. I just don’t want to constantly be bombarded with ads that require me to do work.

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